APN News

  • Wednesday, November, 2020| Today's Market | Current Time: 06:32:01
  • Frugal Innovation refers to the development of innovations that are cost-effective and can be scaled in an economically affordable manner. This makes frugal innovations important for populous countries with a large number of poor, such as a developing nation like India. The role of such innovations is critical also in the context of achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    Bringing the focus on Frugal Innovation, FORE School of Management, New Delhi (FSM) organised Roundtable 2.0 on ‘Frugal Approach to Innovation: So Far and Way Forward’. The event was organised by FSM’s Center for Research and Innovation in Frugal Technology Management (CRIFT). This Center is unique in India in that it is dedicated to furthering Frugal Innovation. It works closely with industry and technology institutes in India and abroad to contribute to the body of knowledge in this important area and facilitates market access and commercial feasibility for frugal innovations.

    The second edition of the Roundtable, the inaugural roundtable having been held on January 2019, comprised of theme-oriented presentations by eminent speakers representing global academia, industry, consultants, and trade bodies.

    The two sessions for the Meet were clearly differentiated:

    1. Frugality & Resource Utilisation, which covered:
      • Frugal engineering and evolution of frugal innovation;
      • Role of policymakers in addressing frugal innovations;
      • Frugality and material recycling;
      • Creating an ecosystem for frugal innovation

      2. Challenges in Adopting Frugal Approach to Innovation, which covered:
      • Issues in scaling up frugal innovation;
      • Challenges for frugal innovation in industry;
      • Frugal innovation in energy access;
      • Leveraging energy resources by factoring frugality

    A rising population and resultant resource constraints were considered by all speakers to be the driving force behind the need for frugal innovations in India. Only a frugal approach can thus result in solutions that are simple, resourceful, creative, and accessible for the masses. A key enabler in this has been the rise of digital technologies, which help to scale and proliferate solutions in the most cost-effective manner.

    Dr. Jitendra K. Das Director, FORE School of management kick-started the event by introducing FORE’s Center for Research and Innovation in Frugal Technology Management, aka CRIFT. He brought a very interesting point home as he mentioned how the growing population is a boon when Frugal Innovation is concerned. In his words- “The increasing population is sure a sore problem, but the same can also aid frugal innovation. And according to research, now the world is seeing brighter ideas than ever.”

    Dr. Nivedita Agarwal, Assistant Professor and Chair of Technology Management, Nuremberg Campus of Technology (NCT) emphasised on 3 waves of frugal innovation. She brought forth the necessity of frugal products, frugal ecosystem, and the constraints. And points out how “the world needs frugal products that are simple, resourceful, creative and accessible.”

    Prof. Solomon Darwin, Executive Director, Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, Haas School of Business, University of California, popularly known as ‘The father of the smart villages movement’ began the session as a keynote speaker at the Roundtable. He made an important point about the need for open innovation in coming up with solutions for societal needs. According to him, “knowledge is the key. It should be treated as a social resource, that when acquired, learned or innovated is shared with the rest of the world for the betterment of everyone.”

    Mr. Amar Singh, Secretary General, Material Recycling Association of India, Mumbai, who comes with extensive experience with Material Recycling Association of India thereafter urged that the recycling industry is still in need of new technologies that are effective and efficient. A lot of innovation awaits there and he requested the innovators and entrepreneurs to come up with solutions and ideas to help maximize frugal innovation in this particular industry.

    “While most of us view e-waste as a hazard, it can also be perceived as a resource which when put to use, can be converted into precious and useful products,” was the view-point of Mr. Ashok Kumar. He further proposed to institutionalize e-waste recycling and optimize the gains for the world.

    Mr. Debashish Bhattacharyya, COO, Erudio Consulting Services Pvt. Ltd., points around finite resources, people and capacity to maximize healthy living and minimize harmful footprints on the environment turned the session even more interesting while Dr. Saradindu Bhaduri, Associate Professor, Centre for Studies in Science Policy, JNU, New Delhi, discussed the flip side of scaling Frugal products and innovation. He cautioned that- “scaling down is as important as scaling up. Scaling is a strategic tool for businesses. Scaling down at the right time is equally important to help the original idea survive. While scaling up has resulted in the expulsion of the original innovators, scaling down will ensure the idea stays intact.”

    Dr. Ashok K. Das, Founder CEO, SunMoksha, Bangalore, had initiated the idea of India’s first-ever smart village in Orissa some years back and he drew from that experience to highlight how bigger innovations when coupled with smaller one’s aid in bringing some of the most path-breaking success stories around the world.


    The Meet also included other eminent industry and academic experts such as- Mr. Ashok Kumar, Vice Chairman, Greenscape Eco Management Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, Mr. Nitin Akhade, Manager, Technology & Markets, Clean Enery Access Networks, Mr. Vijay Kumar Ahooja, Ex-Vice President, HCL Technologies, Mr. Adwait Joshi, CEO, CLEAN (Clean Energy Access Network), New Delhi, Dr. Pawan Gupta Director Head and Neck, Max Institute of Cancer Care, Mr. Baldev V. Raisinghani, Former President and Director, Madhya Pradesh Jaypee Minerals Ltd. and Mr. Gaurav Sekhri, Managing Director, Tinna Rubber and Infrastructure Limited, New Delhi.

    Bringing his years of experience from working with Clean Energy Access Networks, Nitin Akhade talks about feasible frugal innovations that are economical and accessible to the mass. And Mr. Vijay Kumar Ahooja mentions how “in the corporate world, there is a common reluctance around frugal innovations. We shall work on models that can help establish an environment that mutually benefits the corporations as well as the frugal innovators. This can also help to ensure the sustainability of the frugal innovations that would otherwise perish with time.”

    Another very insightful dimension was brought forth at the Roundtable by Mr. Pawan Gupta who is in the world of healthcare and medicines. Quipping and drawing from his elaborate understanding of the healthcare industry, he mentions how frugal innovation is the need of the hour there. “Small innovations can open doors to major solutions in healthcare,” he explains.

    Another common refrain from everyone present at the Meet was that each and every industry got to adopt a more accepting approach towards frugality in innovation. The association of ‘cheap’ with ‘frugal’ is something that needs to be dropped if Frugal Innovation is to be adopted whole-heartedly by the public and private sectors.

    Prof. Anil Kumar Singh, Chair, Strategy at FORE School of Management and the key-facilitator of the Roundtable 2.0 delivered the vote of thanks and concluded the event by acknowledging the ideas presented by the speakers and thanked them for providing deep insights into this growing field. Needless to say, the event updated attendees on the latest approaches of frugal innovation being used globally. Roundtable 2.0 was concluded at FORE with the promise to further the discussion, debate, and research in this dynamic field and of more such sessions to come from the B-school.