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Frugal Innovation for Development


Admission requirements

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


This course is the 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. During the course the field assignment will function as the real life case around which in-class and out-class assignments are organized.

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 frugal 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.

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.


14 October 2019 until 29 October 2019

Mode of instruction

(Guest) lectures, in-class and out-class individual and group work, excursion.

Course Load

84 total hours of study

Assessment method

Evaluation of presentations and intermediate and final written assignments. Details will be presented in the syllabus for the minor.


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 this course through uSis (Leiden University)


If you have questions, please contact the course coordinator Dr. André Leliveld,, or send an e-mail to