Frugal Innovation digital inclusion
Frugal Innovation
in science and society


Welcome to the website of the International Centre for Frugal Innovation (ICFI) - a multi-disciplinary academic research centre within the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Universities Alliance.

At ICFI we investigate frugal innovation processes and their economic, social and environmental impacts.  Frugal innovation is an alternative perspective that can profoundly change the ideas of what innovation could be.  Not only in terms of tangible end-products but also in terms of sources of knowledge, business models, actors involved, governance and the institutional and policy environment. About smart, simple and affordable solutions, its main premise is that extreme resource constraints inform the process, outcomes and value of innovation. It is a multidisciplinary approach to innovation that goes beyond a focus on technology to integrate entrepreneurial, environmental and socioeconomic considerations. As part of this, local ideas, knowledge and resources are highly valued. It is about doing more, for more people, with fewer resources. 

As the name indicates, at the base of frugal innovation lies frugality, an ancient value rooted in different spiritual traditions that has transcended physical, time-related and cultural boundaries. Frugality prioritizes mindful resource allocation, simplicity in products and a rejection of wastefulness, as well as fostering a ‘do-it-yourself’ mentality, promoting sustainability, resourcefulness and self-sufficiency. In essence, the association of frugality with Dutch identity reflects a commitment to responsible stewardship of resources and resilience in the face of adversity.

In today's interconnected world, the value of frugality takes on renewed significance as we confront the pressing need for sustainability and responsible consumption. While advancements in technology and globalization have granted more people access to material wealth in some parts of the world, this trajectory is not sustainable in the long run. The ethos of frugality offers a forward-looking perspective, urging us to reassess our relationship with resources and the environment. Despite the allure of abundance, it is necessary to acknowledge that unchecked consumption is not without consequences, leading to ecological degradation and social inequality.

In a world where excess seems to be the norm, the concept of frugality stands out like a beacon of simplicity.