The Wonders of Frugal Innovation

Frugal innovation. I like the sound of that. Being a fan of low budget movies, I’ve always loved stories of people who can be innovative on limited resources. They say that necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Many times, so is poverty, and many innovators didn’t initially have unlimited funds to create a better mousetrap, so to speak. 


This is why in India, as CNN reports, what’s known as “frugal innovation” is being celebrated. One example CNN cited was a an named Mansukhbhai Prajapati, who invented a non-electric refrigerator out of clay that kept his food from getting spoiled during the devastating earthquake of 2001. 

As CNN further reports, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts wrote in a paper that “frugal innovation is found throughout the Indian system: from efforts to crowdsource drug recovery driven by government labs, to cutting the cost of mobile phone calls…”

The pied piper of frugal innovation is a professor named Anil Gupta, who has been looking for frugal innovators all over India. The article pointed out that one inventor was able to build a projector out of cell phone parts, while another made a medical tool from an alarm clock.

While people like this are clearly making a difference in India, and it may also be catching on elsewhere. There’s already a company called Frugal Digital in Copenhagen, although one source told CNN, the global reach of this isn’t big so far. But as another source added, “General Electric has shown with its now famous ultra-low cost ECG machine that there is a Western market for products born out of the Indian healthcare market.”