At the forefront of frugal innovation

Posted by ap507 at Jun 26, 2018 09:59 AM |
University of Leicester School of Business to hold national workshop on emerging field

Issued by University of Leicester on 26 June 2018

Images of recycled ARV bottles available here (Credit: Makerere University Business School, Uganda):

The University of Leicester School of Business (ULSB) is leading the way in drawing attention to frugal innovation - an emerging field that centres on the creation of affordable products that are easily accessible to consumers.

ULSB is hosting a two day Frugal Innovation Workshop from 28-29 June at College Court, Leicester.

The workshop will bring together an international and interdisciplinary audience of 30 academics, policymakers and practitioners interested in frugal innovation, poverty alleviation, entrepreneurship, business and development to discuss, debate and work together to shine a light on this emerging field, and the inspirational stories found within it, in the world of business.

Frugal innovation centres on the creation of affordable products that are easily accessible to consumers. The notion is drawing increasing attention at both academic and industry spheres.

While most of the existing frugal innovation research pertains to innovations performed by multinationals targeting Bottom of the Pyramid consumers, this workshop is grounded in research on bottom-up frugal innovations performed by micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Uganda, contributing to the limited research in this area.

Dr Winfred Onyas, Lecturer in Marketing at ULSB, has been instrumental in organising this workshop. She carries out research focused on the functioning of markets and money in developing countries, and in particular, on how low income actors contribute to shape markets.

At the workshop, Winfred will work with colleagues she is collaborating with at Makerere University Business School, Uganda, to share several case studies. One striking example focuses on a social and ecological frugal innovation enacted by ARV-Power, a Community Based Organisation (CBO).

Joy K., a 32-year old HIV advocate, leads this CBO, whose activities centre around her personal HIV story and drive to sensitise and involve the youth and communities in the programme. ARV-Power takes a long-term approach to equip people to take the personal responsibility over decisions like knowing their HIV status and/ or preventing the disease. The CBO targets young people, who, according to the World Health Organization (2016) have the highest infection rate.

Dr Onyas said: “We explore inspirational frugal innovations such as Joy’s to understand the nature of practices involved in enacting and sustaining the social venture. Hence, we examine and recommend a supportive actor-network (including government, customers and suppliers) that enables the creation of a responsive ecosystem to sustain and enhance the frugal innovation.”

ARV-Power is not without challenges. “ARV-Power targets HIV-related and non-HIV related organisational buyers with their products, however, the CBO is yet to reach a broader market. Joy sees the importance of developing governmental partnerships in furthering her venture, although these are not established yet.”

In June, Joy will be attending the Young African Leaders Initiative, a flagship programme begun by President Obama in 2010 that empowers young leaders “with proven accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries” (YALI, 2018).

The Frugal Innovation workshop aims to encourage debate on the relevance and prospects of frugal innovation, regardless of form, to developing and emerging contexts. The workshop’s objectives are to develop interdisciplinary networks and potential research partnerships in the frugal innovation field; and to draw lessons relevant to developed contexts motivated to transform resource constraints into frugal innovation opportunities.

The workshop will feature two Keynote Speakers from industry and academia. Madeleine Gabriel, the Head of Inclusive Innovation, International Team at Nesta, leads international projects on new models that tackle big social challenges and is currently exploring how the notion of frugal innovation could apply to Europe.

Professor Jaideep Prabhu is the Director of the Centre for India & Global Business at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, and is the acclaimed author of ‘Jugaad Innovation’ and co-author of ‘Frugal Innovation – how to do better for less’.


Notes to editors:

  • This workshop forms part of the 3-year project, “Exploring the nature and prospects of frugal innovation in Uganda” funded by the British Academy’s International Partnership & Mobility Scheme, involving academics at the School of Business, University of Leicester and Makerere University Business School, Uganda. The output from the workshop will feed into a stakeholder meeting planned in Kampala, Uganda, in 2019.
  • Further details on the case studies will be presented at the workshop.


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