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Co-creating frugal innovations for sustainable development in resource-scarce, low-income settings
March 1, 2016 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Can two wicked sustainability problems: extreme poverty and overuse of natural resources be solved simultaneously? At the outset, these objectives appear mutually exclusive as addressing pressing poverty problems such the need for clean water, food, access to energy and decent shelter requires the use of natural resources. The prospect of a solution is further complicated because the likelihood of developed countries sacrificing any of their resource use and consumption for the benefit of poorer parts of the world’s population, seems remote at best.
In the seminar I will discuss frugal innovation as one potential approach to the above. Frugal innovations are resource scarce solutions – anything from products to business models – that are designed under resource constraints, are affordable even for very low-income people, and are good enough to meet the basic needs of individuals and communities which would otherwise remain neglected. Frugal innovations are typically created by local grassroots entrepreneurs or large corporations. I will highlight a third approach – multi-stakeholder co-creation of frugal innovations in resource-scarce settings with low-income communities – and discuss why it makes sense that researchers, students, business firms and NGOs from developed countries participate in such innovation endeavours. I will also highlight sense-making challenges in these multi-stakeholder groups and provide frugal water and energy co-creation examples from our current action research project.