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Spreading the word on frugal innovation

Frugal innovation

Two of Cambridge Judge Business School’s experts are travelling abroad this month to speak on the topic of frugal innovation.

Jaideep Prabhu, Nehru Professor of Indian Business, will attend the European Edition of the Maker Faire in Rome this weekend (4 October). A keynote speaker on a special session entitled “Less is more. Doing science the frugal way”, Jaideep will talk about how small and large firms in emerging and developed markets alike are developing ingenious low cost solutions to address problems of poverty and inequality.

Jaideep said: “Frugal innovation is a major source of affordable and sustainable solutions to problems of poverty, inequality and resource constraint worldwide. New technologies such as 3D printing, smartphones and the Internet of Things, as well as movements like the Maker Movement and the Sharing Economy, are driving the democratization of innovation everywhere.

“The Maker Faire is a manifestation of this phenomenon with links to Cambridge and Silicon Fen. For instance, Raspberry Pi (a tiny low-cost computer), a Cambridge innovation, is very much at the centre of the maker movement in UK with ordinary people using it to develop frugal applications in education, weather reporting, and household appliances.”

Navi Radjou, an innovation and leadership strategist based in Silicon Valley, winner of the 2013 Thinkers50 Innovation Award and Fellow at Cambridge Judge Business School, will head to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where TED Global 2014 is taking place. The event will start on Monday, 6 October and Navi will discuss how frugal innovation can drive inclusive and sustainable growth in both emerging and developed economies in a session titled “Basic Needs” on Thursday, 09 October.

He said: “The theme of the 2014 edition of TED Global South! is to assert the irrevocable rise of emerging markets like India, China, Africa, and Brazil as the engine of global economic growth. Ingenious entrepreneurs in these fast-growing economies are trailblazing frugal innovation as a way to create more economic and social value for more citizens using limited resources.

Independently, in the US and Europe, whose economies are entering a prolonged era of austerity, nimble entrepreneurs are embracing frugal innovation to affordable and sustainable solutions in healthcare, energy, education, and finance. As the global economy becomes interconnected and natural resources get scarce, entrepreneurs and firms from both emerging markets and mature economies will collaborate and co-create breakthrough frugal solutions that address the needs cost-conscious and eco-aware customers worldwide. Indeed, frugal innovation is a global phenomenon that transcends regional boundaries.

Jaideep Prabhu and Navi Radjou, together with Simone Ahuja, are co-authors of the influential Jugaad innovation. The bestselling book has been translated into Japanese, Portuguese, French, Dutch and Italian, with further translations in Chinese and Korean due soon. In the book, the authors argue that Western corporations ‘must look to countries like India, China, and Africa for a new, bottom-up approach to frugal and flexible innovation.’

Frugal innovation is also the focus of a new book from Jaideep and Navi, to be published by The Economist in February next year.