Researchers of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa (CFIA), in collaboration with Dutch companies and African entrepreneurs, are working to develop new 'inclusive business models' for successful innovation in Africa.
The consortium has received funding for this four-year project from the Responsible Innovation programme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The research project is co-funded by three Dutch companies in the ‘Water’ and ‘Health’ Top Sectors: Royal Philips and the water companies OASEN and Hatenboer.
Prof. dr. Cees van Beers on the pivotal role of African entrepreneurs: Their knowledge of local buyers' relevant ethical and social values makes them a key source of knowledge and ideas in the design and redesign processes.
Frugal Innovation in Eastern Africa
The central theme of the project is frugal innovation in Eastern Africa: the design/redesign of quality products, services and systems making them cheap and basic but also adapted to local circumstances and cultures. Prof. Cees van Beers (Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa and TU Delft): "We plan to build a framework in which business models and the product development cycle are integrated, aimed at making frugal innovations inclusive. In this, it is crucial that local ethical and social values are taken into account from the beginning of the product development cycle."
Prof. dr. Cees van Beers: it is crucial that local ethical and social values are taken into account from the beginning of the product development cycle.
African entrepreneurs play a pivotal role. Van Beers: "Their knowledge of local buyers' relevant ethical and social values makes them a key source of knowledge and ideas in the design and redesign processes. They are also vital to the distribution of innovative products and systems, especially to customers in remote areas. This role generates an opportunity for African entrepreneurs to become part of international value chains."
The NWO programme Responsible Innovation (MVI) encourages multidisciplinary research teams and private parties involved in designing new technology to consider ethical and social aspects from the outset. This will avoid the need for costly modifications afterwards or the risk of society rejecting new technology. The research is aligned to one or more of the Dutch Top sectors.