nl en

Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development

International Centre for Frugal Innovation

African Studies Centre

This minor has specific application procedures, click the tab ‘Target Group’ for more information.

Be aware that you can only apply for this Minor between 3 April 13:00 hrs. and 16 April 2023. Although the minor description is synchronised between the LEI, TUD and EUR prospectuses it may take some time. For all purposes the description in this Leiden e-prospectus is leading.

Leiden-Delft-Rotterdam (LDE) Minor Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development, 2023-2024

Are you interested to learn more about frontier innovation thinking and practices? Do you want to explore the societal relevance of frugal innovation? Are you up for a multidisciplinary challenge? Do you want to combine theory and practice? If you are answering these questions affirmatively, you are the ideal candidate for this Leiden-Delft-Erasmus (LDE) minor on frugal innovation!

Frugal innovations are informed and inspired by the principle of frugality. In many philosophical and religious traditions across the globe frugality is considered an important virtue, which implies low material consumption and a simple lifestyle to open the mind for spiritual goods such as inner freedom, social peace, and justice. In today’s colloquial meaning frugality also refers to the quality of being economical with (scarce) resources and materials, being sparing. In mainstream innovation thinking and practices, that mainly build upon experiences in high-income countries, the widespread availability of material and non-material resources has always been more or less assumed. This often leads to over-engineering of products, services and systems, whereby a solution to a problem is provided in an elaborate or complicated and expensive manner, overexploiting resources, while a simpler, more affordable solution can be demonstrated to exist with (almost) the same functionality and effectiveness, and by using less resources. This simpler solution can be called ‘frugal innovation’.

During the past decade, frugal innovation has emerged as a new discourse on innovation, challenging mainstream innovation thinking and practices in a global context in which (1) a majority of the people continues to live in contexts in which they do not have access to affordable, basic necessities when it comes to health, housing, energy, water or food, and (2) current production and consumptions patterns, notably in the Global North, have led to overexploitation of resources, causing environmental degradation and climate change worldwide. Among both academics and policy makers, frugal innovation is ascribed potential to contribute to today’s societal challenges such as sustainability, inequality, exclusion, and poverty, across the globe.

In this minor we critically explore and investigate frugal innovation discourses and its ascribed potentials. You will not only discover the various narratives on frugal innovation, you will also apply your knowledge in practice through a field assignment during which you will be work with a multidisciplinary team on a real life frugal innovation challenge. This assignment allows you to combine (part of) your own study background with the knowledge and skills you acquired during the first part of the minor. Underpinning both the theoretical and practical portions of the minor is a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) lens. This involves an exploration into the intersectionality between academia, practice, and the various contexts involved. Similarly, the minor will equip you with further skills for the world after university in terms of navigating uncertainty, the art of asking and questioning, negotiating, building trust, and interviewing. It will also help nurture team working capacities, for transformative change is the sum of the efforts of individuals working and leveraging within collectives.

Apply for this minor via EduXchange, submit the Background and Commitment Form

Maximum number of students: 40

Prospectus number: 5000MFRINN

Language: English


Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Frugal Innovation and Entrepreneurship 3
Frugal Innovation for Development 4
Bootcamp 5
Frugal Innovation and Technology 3
Frugal Innovation in Practice 15

Target Group

Applications are open to all final year Bachelor's students from Leiden University, TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam, who are interested in this emerging field of study, regardless of study and disciplinary background. This minor is especially targets students who want to link their study with tackling concrete societal challenges.

Although not exclusive the minor is in particular attractive for students of anthropology and sociology, area studies, biology, development, global challenges, urbanisation, politics and international relations, economics, business studies, law, health, water, building sciences, industrial design, computer science and engineering, life science and technology, technology and innovation (management) studies, etc.

In general, students who are up for a multidisciplinary challenge and see the mutual benefit of integrating social, entrepreneurial and technological knowledge and skills are encourage to apply. We are looking for a diversity of interests and backgrounds, to ensure active cross-disciplinary interaction.

This minor requires full-time study from September 2023 until the last week of January in 2024. Experiences of students in previous editions of the minor show that it is difficult to combine participation in this minor with other studies or retake exams. The minor forms a continuous program with its own assignment rhythm including the field assignment, in which for reasons of group cohesion and collaboration, a partial stay either in the Netherlands or abroad is not allowed.

The minor has a layered first come first serve admission procedure. A maximum of 40 students (equally distributed among the three LDE universities) will be admitted and an equal distribution among disciplines will be aimed for. Therefore this minor resorts as a selection minor and applications have to be submitted via EduXchange between 3 and 16 April 2023 together with a Background and Commitment Form .
Incomplete or applications received after 16 April will not be taken into consideration!

Successful candidates will be informed by 1 May 2023. Address any further enquiries to the minor coordinator: Madi Ditmars

Take Note: Students have to follow and complete the full 30 ECTS of this LDE minor. In case your studies does not allow you to follow a 30 EC Minor, but you are still interested, you are strongly advised to contact your studies coordinator before applying, to explore the possibility to complete the whole minor. Our experience is that in most cases this can be arranged.

More info

  • Extent: 30 ECs spread over 1 semester

  • Intended for: third year students of the LDE universities from all disciplines

  • Language of instruction: English

  • Coordinator: Madi Ditmars

  • Information: See the following websites*

African Studies Centre Leiden

Delft University of Technology

Erasmus University Rotterdam

LDE Alliance

Although the minor description is synchronised between the LEI, TUD and EUR prospectuses it may take some time. For all purposes the description in this Leiden e-prospectus is leading.