Abstract: The paradigm of frugal innovations has gained prominence in recent times. These innovations address the issue of environmental stability by bringing out products and services with affordable technology while maintaining a low cost to reach the audience at the bottom of the pyramid. These objectives along with others which are taken up in this literature review are at the factor behind the advent of these ‘frugal innovation' and thus explain not only the recent upsurge in such innovations but also the location i.e., the developing countries and especially the case of India, where these innovations are being born.
Keywords: Frugal innovation, factors, sustainable development, Pro-poor innovation, Gandhian innovation, Jugaad innovation, Energy Efficience.
The concept of frugal innovation or the 'doing more with less' approach to innovation has been around for some time now but only recently has gained prominence. The phenomenon is more evident in emerging markets like India and China, who are the pioneers in this sector(Hossein,2020). This development bucks the general trend of industrialized countries leading the way in new innovative technologies, products, and services. Frugal innovation overcomes input, income and infrastructure resource constraints to come up with affordable, smart and accessible solutions (Asakawa et al.,2019). The innovation is not defined by making things cheaper but rather making things better by creatively leveraging locally available resources and integrating them with existing technologies(Radjou,2017).
In India frugal innovation is sometimes called Gandhian or 'jugaad' innovation (Platt,2010;'Asian Innovation', 2012). Jugaad is a Hindi word which means a improvised solution or a creative fix in the face of adversity(Radjou,2017). India has emerged as a trailblazer for frugal innovations. India has distinguished itself by successfully developing accessible, affordable solution to decrease existing product and services disparity in the country('India bringing',2016;Singh et. al.,2012). Highest number of frugal innovations are from India (Hossain, 2016). Several successful examples of the phenomenon
are documented in literature(Bound and Thornton,2012;Sachitanand,2013;Amos,2014;Kalla,2015). A thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem harnessing human creativity to deliver cost efficient and sustainable frugal innovations will help the Indian economy to grow and become self sufficient('How enterpreneurship',2021; Hussain,2018).
This article maps out the factors behind this upsurge in frugal innovations in the context of the environmental, institutional, technological, economic, or socio-cultural changes or developments that have aided such growth. Section 2 of the paper explores and attempts to define the concept of frugal innovation. Section 3 talks about the history of frugal innovation, highlighting the early influence of Gandhian ideas and the impact of rising prominence of green technologies and environmental consciousness in recent times. Section 4 compares and contrasts frugal innovation to conventional innovation. Section 5 explores the association of frugal innovation with the sustainable development. Section 6 and 7 details the factors behind the emergence of frugal innovations in the world and India respectively. Section 8 gives concluding statements and discusses some of the shortcomings of the frugal innovations and policy recommendations.