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Frugal Innovation for Development


Admission requirements



This course is then third thematic module in the LDE Minor ‘Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development’. Now that students have been introduced to the entrepreneurial and technological aspects of frugal innovation, they need to be made aware of the context in which these two aspects play. In the literature, it is often assumed that frugal can contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of poorer people and the realization of the SDGs, but whether this potential is also realized depends on many factors. This course has three main themes: the actors involved, local context analysis and measuring impact.

Firstly, students get acquainted with academic debates about the access to and use of Frugal Innovations by different groups in society (male / female, old / young, poor / rich, etc.) and the differentiated effects of frugal innovations within society, both for users and for entrepreneurs. Issues of agency, power and inequality will be addressed, and will be linked to discussions in the previous courses on technology and entrepreneurship. This also provides further insights into the role of various actors in frugal innovation and their interaction (consumers, producers, entrepreneurs, politicians, policy makers, etc.).

Secondly, frugal Innovation arise from or come into being in a specific context, in which existing social, economic and political institutions have a major influence on the way in which frugal innovations take shape. Students learn about the interaction between different types of institutions and the establishment of irugal Innovations, and the effects and impact of these innovations on local, regional and international development processes.

Thirdly, attention is also paid to how you could measure the effects and impact of frugal innovations on local as well as regional or national development. This is a new field of study which needs rapid development. Students are introduced to current measuring models and learn how they can take measuring impact into account during their internships.

Course objectives

After this course students are able to:

  • Reproduce and interpret knowledge about frugal innovation from a developmental perspective;

  • Apply this perspective critically to case studies from different parts of the world;

  • Learn from other disciplines, in particular development studies, and relate this knowledge to and integrate into their own disciplinary background;

  • to integrate the development perspective into the visions from technology and entrepreneurship in order to arrive at a more integrated understanding on how frugal innovations relates to various dimensions of development as defined in the SDGs.

  • From there, make a constructive contribution to the debate on frugal innovation and sustainable global development.



Mode of instruction

Expert lecturers, case studies, online course work

Course Load

112 total hours of study to be spent on attending classes, studying the compulsory literature and on the assignment.

Assessment method


Written assignment: students will be presented a case either through video or a written case (to be further determined) on which they have to comment in a three page essay, using insights gained from the frugal innovation and development course. The dimensions on which they have to comment and along which they have to structure their essay will be provided in class to ensure a balanced assessment.

Participation in class and online course work.


Final grade: 80% written assignment + 20% participation

The final grades for the written assignment and participation should be 6,0 or higher. Together they should be a 6,0 or higher to pass the course


The students are allowed one re-sit for the written assignment. It is not allowed to re-sit an examination or assignment for which they have received a pass (6,0 or higher). It is not allowed to re-sit the in-class assignment which they haven't done during the first occasion. The re-sit format needs to be discussed with the teachers of the course in line with examination regulations.

Exam Review



All students have to be present in all sessions. The teachers and the minor coordinator have to be notified in advance for the absences. The students who are absent more than twice will not pass the module


In this course, Blackboard is used to present course information, notify you of changes to the course and to make course materials available.

Reading list

Scientific and professional papers and teaching cases, to be provided or indicated via Blackboard.


You register for the whole minor and for each individual course in uSis.


If you have questions, please contact the minor coordinators (André Leliveld, Emma Hesselink and Maaike Westra) at