frugal innovation education course - minor frugal innovation for sustainable global development - group picture students and lecturers 2019-2020
Education Program
Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development (FI4SGD)

LDE Minor: Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development (FI4SGD)

Each year ICFI organizes a unique education program for third year bachelor students from Leiden University, TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam - the minor Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development (FI4SGD). In the program, participating students will have the opportunity to work with students from other universities and disciplines, allowing them to step outside of their monodisciplinary frame of reference.

- Are you interested to learn more about frontier innovation thinking and practices?
- Do you want to explore its societal relevance?
- Are you up for a multidisciplinary challenge?
- Do you want to combine theory and practice in a 12 weeks field assignment in the Netherlands or abroad?

If you are answering these questions affirmatively, you are the ideal candidate for this Leiden-Delft-Erasmus (LDE) minor on frugal innovation!  

frugal innovation

Frugal innovations are informed 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 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 using less resources. This solution can be called ‘frugal innovation’.  

Potential of Frugal Innovation for people and planet

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 such as health, housing, energy, water or food, and  (2) current production and consumptions patterns, notably in the Global North, have led to overexploitation of natural 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.


About the Minor

This Minor is offered by the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus International Centre for Frugal Innovation (ICFI), and coordinated and convened by the African Studies Centre Leiden, Leiden University

In the first part of the Minor (September-October) you will follow three courses that will introduce you to the multiple narratives on frugal innovation, applying a technological, entrepreneurial, and societal lens. You will also prepare for a group-based field assignment. In the second part of the Minor (November-January) you will conduct a group-based field assignment, either in the Netherlands or abroad.

The upcoming edition will run from September 2024 until January 2025.

Registration through EduXchange closes July 4th 2024.
(In case there are any problems with the registration, please contact the minor coordination,

View the complete full e-study guide here!  


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 2024 until the last week of January in 2025

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.  Applications have to be submitted via EduXchange between between 15 – 31 May 2024 alongside an up-to-date CV to and a completed Background and Commitment Form. 

URL links to all these documents can be found in the Leiden University Minor e-prospectus

Incomplete or applications received after 13:00 CET on 31 May will not be taken into consideration!

Address any further enquiries to

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.

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.

- 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: African Studies Centre Leiden, Delft University of Technology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, LDE Alliance

Visit the MINOR MARKETS for information on the FI4SGD 2024-2025!

Leiden University         Tues 19 March  15.30 – 17.30   On campus: Pieter de la Court Building

TU Delft                        Thurs 21 March 13.00 – 17.00   On campus: Aula

Erasmus University      Thurs 28 March 11:30 - 12:00 & 15:30-16:00 Online

(register through EUR website)

 Zoom link - Meeting ID: 630 7557 7306/ Passcode: Vn2&J0Rm

The field assignment can be conducted abroad or in the Netherlands. When the field assignment is conducted abroad, students need to be aware that they must finance their own travel, accommodation and living costs abroad. The costs involved during the stay abroad vary across destinations (last year, field assignments took place in India, Nepal, Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Saba) but between 2,500 and 3,500 Euros is a realistic estimate to take account of. The university offers limited opportunities for subsidies. The subsidies that are available count to a maximum of 300-400 Euros.


Read about 10 internships & field work of 2020-2021 in our e-zine:

Student Project e-zine 2020-2021