Networking and building alliances across disciplines and countries

EADI, the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes, is the leading European network in the field of Development Studies: With more than 100 institutional members in more than 25 countries it organises activities and provides platforms for international networking and exchange with a strong interdisciplinary focus. EADI’s flagship events are the General Conferences every three years which bring together the wider Development Research community around a specific topic. The official languages of EADI are English and French.


EADI’s Mission

EADI is the prime professional association for development studies. As such it promotes:

  • Quality in research and education in development studies,
  • The exchange of relevant information among members and with others,
  • The strengthening of relevant knowledge networks at the regional and global level,
  • Influencing both national and European decision-makers in the development cooperation field. 


EADI’s Objectives

  • To generate and stimulate and exchange of information among European academics and researchers concerned with development issues
  • To promote interdisciplinary studies on specific themes
  • To develop contacts with researchers from other regions of the world


EADI Working Group: Frugal Innovation and Development

Frugal Innovation is quite a new topic in both academia and policy circles, leaving it undervalued and sometimes misunderstood. The Working Group for Frugal Innovation and Development (WG) aims at bringing together academics from different parts of the world in an effort to take up unanswered questions and misunderstandings together, instead of each on their own.

What are the core topics?
While debates on Frugal Innovation mostly comprise definitional discussions, the WG has decided to shift its focus to differentiation within the concept in terms of technological application, economic sustainability and inclusiveness. Instead of seeing Frugal Innovation as a binary concept (either frugal or non-frugal), WG members view Frugal Innovation as a concept consisting out of different degrees of frugality.

Frugal innovation concerns value-sensitive design and marketing strategies that bring sophisticated products within the reach of relatively poorer consumers. Through re-engineering and re-inventing high-value consumer products and dramatically lowering their unit consumer price, a significantly extended range of products can be made affordable for the roughly four billion consumers at the Bottom or Base of the Pyramid (BoP).

The challenge is not simply providing stripped down versions of high-value products, but instead providing value-sensitive innovations that are truly compatible with the unique circumstances of relatively poorer consumers, and to find ways to co-produce these innovations with local producers. For example, developing much cheaper and more robust weather stations in cooperation with African universities or improved access to micro-credit through innovative mobile-phone services.

While these examples show their developmental potential, frugal innovations can also lead to increased environmental damage and more exploitative labour conditions if the ‘stripping down’ means undercutting existing environmental and labour standards. Moreover, when frugal innovation and the technologies and strategies it involves are fully developed in the headquarters of Western or Chinese, Indian or Brazilian companies without any interaction with local entrepreneurs, these strategies are less likely to generate local developmental spin-off’s in terms of for example promoting forward and backward linkages in production, innovation, technology, and employment.