Mission and Strategy

We aim to work with the academic community, societal partners and government to form a basis for further academic and public-private partnerships. Currently we focus on projects within the water-energy-food nexus and sectors like health and ICT. Together we explore, develop, and share knowledge on frugal innovation.

Our mission

Frugal innovations and technologies have a lot of potential to contribute towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). CFIA aims to investigate where, when and which types of frugal innovations and technologies are more likely to contribute to poverty reduction, inclusive development and sustainable outcomes. In doing so, we connect global challenges to local contexts.

Our strategy

In close collaboration with our steering committee, we work alongside a strategic plan that describes how we seek our mission. Our strategy is a reflection of the movements we observe in academia, society and economy.

Our ambition

CFIA’s ambition is to be the multidisciplinary hub on developing, synthesising and sharing academic and practitioner’s knowledge on frugal innovation. We aim to use and share this knowledge to contribute to addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

Frugal innovations and technologies reduce complexity and total lifecycle costs, enhance functionality, provide high user value and affordable solutions for relatively low-income customers. Frugal innovations can be developed by profit driven businesses, by social entrepreneurs or NGOs, and by community members to address local constraints. Frugality is not an all-or-nothing concept, but a matter of degree and interpretation, just like inclusion or sustainability. The contexts in which frugal innovations and technologies contribute to inclusive or sustainable development is an empirical question at the core of the Centre’s work.

By combining purely academic studies and more practical approaches with a range of disciplines and sources of expertise, CFIA can truly capture the multidisciplinary character of frugal innovations and technologies. Are you interested in our work? Check our research projects here or connect with us.

Why Africa?

Frugal innovation was not a well-known concept when the Centre was founded in 2013. At least, not in academic circles. In many emerging economies and developing countries, innovating by using creative strategies and dealing with resource constraints is inherent to people’s daily lives.

CFIA’s three founders decided to focus on the African continent. While many African countries deal with severe resource constraints, Africa is also on the rise. In contrast to what many people still think, 30% of Africa’s population is in the emerging middle class. Frugal innovation is increasingly seen as a valuable innovation strategy in African contexts.

While the Centre’s name might suggest otherwise, its work is not solely focused on Africa. Frugal innovation fits into multiple contemporary debates on sustainability, global development and value-sensitive technology, to name a few. Frugal innovation is not reserved to a specific geographic level of scale. Research in Africa may lead to insights for the rest of the world, and vice versa. This is why the Centre’s perspective is global, with a focus on Africa.