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Frugal Innovation and Technology


Admission requirements

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


This course is the second of the three thematic modules in the minor and focuses on the design and technology dimensions of frugal innovations.

The course start from the point of view of innovation management through 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 new technologies in a coordinated way to solve problems in a frugal way? It includes academic debates about, among other things, frugality, early commitment, value sensitive design, management of technology, digitalization, and science, technology & innovation development that focus on different forms of technological development. Case studies from health, water, energy and housing sectors will be taken on board.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

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 will be 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 sustainable global development 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.


Block I. A detailed timetable will be provided in Brightspace (Leiden University).

Mode of instruction

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

Assessment method

Take home assignment (20%), in-class work (40%), reflection on frugal water innovation (40%)
Resit: Same subtests 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 will be made available in and through Brightspace (Leiden University). We strive to mostly use library and open-source online publications.


Registration à la carte and contract education
The course is only open to students that are enrolled in the LDE Minor Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development.


Course Coordinator: [Prof. Cees van Beers](mailto:

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