Vacancy: Post-doctoral researcher

Are you our new colleague? CFIA is looking for a postdoctoral researcher on frugal innovation and development.

About frugal innovation

Frugal innovation can be defined as the process of innovating under conditions of constraint, to produce solutions that are substantially more affordable than alternatives and accessible to a broader range of people, while also meeting user needs as – or even more – effectively. Frugal innovation processes ideally make optimal and careful use of resources, avoid waste, reduce material use and increase the use of renewables. Especially when also creatively combined with 4th industrial Revolution technologies that deliver tailor-made solutions at very low marginal costs, frugal innovation is increasingly linked to debates on the circular economy and sustainable development. Another entry point is community-based frugal innovations, i.e. innovations whereby community members aim to creatively address common challenges with locally available means. These community-based frugal innovations, based on local experiential knowledge and ingenious improvisation, can enhance local agency and self-confidence and have the potential to contribute to more inclusive development and enhanced social cohesion. To what extent these innovation processes actually deliver such outcomes, is a matter of critical empirical work.

The successful candidate is expected to contribute to a more evidence-based discourse on frugal innovation in various contexts and undertaken by a variety of actors with distinct motivations.  

 Job Description

The position is located in the Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa (CFIA), a multi-disciplinary research centre that is part of the strategic alliance between Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and the Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. On behalf of the CFIA, The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS, The Hague) of Erasmus University Rotterdam invites high-quality applications for a 2-year (0.8 – 1.0 FTE) postdoctoral position to start in May 2020.

Applicants must have a strong demonstrable interest in the thematic areas of innovation and technology, with experience in Africa, Asia or Latin America.

The main task of the post-doctoral researcher will be to conduct research within the framework of CFIA, leading to international quality publications, write grant applications for external research funding for CFIA and to undertake other project tasks allocated by the academic director (as direct supervisor)  and / or the CFIA manager. The intended time allocation between these activities is to reserve at least 30% individual research time, within the broader domain of frugal innovation.


  • A PhD awarded within the last 4 years in innovation, technology or development studies and with a focus on how (new) technologies impact upon development processes;
  • An emerging track record in peer-reviewed independent academic publications relevant to frugal innovation;
  • Proven experience with acquisition of external research funds;
  • Fieldwork experience in Africa, Asia or Latin America;
  • Excellent writing skills;
  • A demonstrated ability to work flexibly and collaboratively in a diverse international research team;
  • Willingness to travel.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 2 years.

Internationally-oriented and varied work within an enthusiastic team, with attractive fringe benefits in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU). The successful candidate is expected to start as soon as possible and will be based at ISS in The Hague. A full-time, two-year contract with Erasmus University Rotterdam will be offered, with an assessment after one year. There is a possibility to work 0,8 FTE. In accordance with the conditions applied at Erasmus University Rotterdam as indicated in the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO NU) of the Dutch universities, the salary is dependent on the candidates’ experience and ranges from € 3.637,- to € 4978,- gross per month, on a fulltime basis (scale 11). In addition, EUR pays an 8% holiday allowance and an end-of-year payment of 8.3% and offers excellent secondary benefits.

The International Institute of Social Studies is committed to building and sustaining a community based on inclusiveness, equity and diversity and believes this will contribute to our mission and vision of being the best institute in our field. ISS is an equal opportunities employer and encourages applications from candidates of all genders, ethnicities and nationalities.


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

The Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), named after Rotterdam-born humanist and theologian Erasmus, is a research university with a strong international orientation and a pronounced social focus, both in its education and research activities. On the lively, modern campus, more than 28.000 students and scholars of more than 100 nationalities are constantly encouraged to develop their talents and meet their ambition. Our more than 2700 scientists and employees work together with all our students to solve challenges faced by global society, drawing their inspiration from the consistently dynamic and cosmopolitan city of Rotterdam. The academic education offered at our faculties is intensive, engaging and strongly focused on practical application. We increasingly perform our research in multidisciplinary teams, which are closely interwoven with international networks. In terms of research impact and the quality of its degree programmes, EUR can compete with the foremost universities in Europe, which is reflected in its consistent top-100 position in most major universities rankings. Erasmus University Rotterdam’s key values are daring, curiosity, social involvement, breaking new ground and striving for success


International Institute of Social Studies (ISS)

The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS)Opens external is a leading academic centre for international development studies. While based in The Hague, the ISS is part of Erasmus University Rotterdam. ISS was established in 1952 as a post-graduate institute of policy-oriented critical social science and development-oriented research. ISS offers a PhD in Development Studies, a 15,5 month MA in Development Studies, a joint MA in Public Policy (Mundus MAPP), a MPA in Governance delivered in Suriname, and post-graduate Diploma courses.

ISS brings together a highly diverse international community of scholars and students from both the global South and the global North, on average, originating from over 50 different countries. The Institute brings together people, ideas and insights in a multi-disciplinary setting which nurtures, fosters and promotes critical thinking and innovative research on fundamental social problems. The strong partnerships with organizations and individuals in developing countries make up a vibrant network where we co-create knowledge so that teaching and research remain socially relevant. Key to the ISS philosophy and practices is the wish to contribute to achieving social justice and equity on a global level.

As part of its Research Strategy, the Institute currently pursues four multidisciplinary, cross-cutting research themes: environment and climate change; conflict and peace; social protection and inequality; and migration and diversity.

Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa

The Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa was founded in 2013 as one of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus (LDE) centres as part of the strategic alliance between Leiden University, Delft University of Technology, and Erasmus University Rotterdam. Through innovative and outstanding teaching and research, CFIA seeks to contribute towards understanding and solving some of the complex issues of our time with a focus on frugal innovation. 

Additional information and application procedure

For inquiries, you may contact Professor Peter Knorringa at until the 20th of March 2020.
To be considered for this postdoc position, applicants must submit, all in one pdf file:

  • A CV, including a list of publications, relevant work experience and contact details of two referees;
  • A statement of interest (max. 3 pages) explaining why you want to join the CFIA and how you will contribute to it as well as why you are particularly suitable for this position/how you meet the criteria for the position;
  • Two relevant writing samples published in academic journals;
  • Example of an (externally funded) research proposal.

Short-listed candidates will be interviewed via Skype. The interviews are expected to take place in April 2020.

The International Institute of Social Studies is committed to building and sustaining a community based on inclusiveness, equity and diversity and believes this will contribute to our mission and vision of being the best institute in our field. ISS is an equal opportunities employer and encourages applications from candidates of all genders, ethnicities and nationalities.

Please submit your applications with all required documents in one pdf file to the Selection Committee by email to:

Deadline for submitting your application is 29 March 2020.

Skype interviews will be held in the week of the 13th of April 2020 (most probably on the 14th or 17th of April).