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Frugal Innovation and Technology


Admission requirements

The course is open for all students that are enrolled in the LDE Minor Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development.


This module is the second of the three thematic modules in the LDE Minor ‘Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development’. The first module served as an introduction to the wider academic debate on frugal innovation and how frugal innovation relates to societal transformation and development. This module will respectively focus on the innovation, design and technology dimensions of frugal innovations.

This module will start from the point of view of innovation management by which students become more acquainted with innovation theories and how frugal innovation relates to an fits into these theories. From there the step is made to innovation for low resource or resource constrained settings, what do such settings imply for innovation and product development cycles, and the technologies involved. Students learn about Technology Readiness Levels, and develop answers to questions such as: what implications do different cultural contexts have for product design? What is frugal technology and how does it come about? And how can we use technology in a coordinated way to solve problems? We will join academic debates about, among other things, frugality, early commitment, value sensitive design, management of technology, and science, technology & innovation development, which focus on different forms of technological development.

After this two strategic themes are chosen to go more in-depth and to which general concepts and notions are applied: 1) Good Health and Well-being (GH&WB) in which the aim is to design radically new diagnostic equipment that optimally functions within the specific characteristics of local health systems. In the course students will take on the challenge to adapt the developments of new medical equipment to the needs and requirements of local healthcare systems, through case driven education. 2) Sanitation & Water Management (S&WM). In which access to clean drinking water is only one side of the coin, because the increasing degree of urbanisation puts the natural hydrological cycle under great pressure. Discharge of municipal and industrial waste water increasingly threatens clean water reservoirs, which due to the growing water demand are already experiencing seasonal shortages in many areas in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. By means of practical cases students get acquainted with basic (frugal) concepts in water purification and hydrometry and/or weather forecasting. The connection with health is also discussed.

Course objectives

Objective: To acquaint students with technological innovation theories, to understand how frugal innovation relates to and fits into these theories, and how to apply it in practice.

Outcomes: After this module students are able to:
1. Reproduce and interpret knowledge about frugal innovation from a technology perspective;
2. Apply this perspective critically to case studies from different parts of the world;
3. Analyse and interpret the potential of frugal innovation in the pursuit of the SDGs from a technology perspective;
4. Learn from other disciplines, in particular innovation (management) and technology studies, and relate this knowledge to and integrate into their own disciplinary background;
5. Make a constructive contribution to the debate on frugal innovation and sustainable global development.


A detailed timetable will be provided in Brightspace (Leiden University) in the minor syllabus.

Mode of instruction

Tutorials, guest lectures, in-class and laboratory individual and group work.

Assessment method

Take home assignments (20%)
GH&WB: In-class prototype and presentation (40%)
S&WM: Reflection on frugal water innovation (40%)


Same subtest as the first, within given timeframe.


Leiden University Brightspace LMS will be used for:

  • Announcements

  • Course information

  • Documents

  • Discussions

  • Grades

  • Calendar

  • Reading list

Reading list

All links and references to prescribed and recommended scientific and professional papers available in(Leiden University Brightspace. The strive to mostly use library and open source online publications.


You register for this course through Osiris at TU Delft.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Education Coordinator: Madi Ditmars

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