How Frugal Innovation can empower citizens to make their life simpler and more sustainable. Insights from two ongoing initiatives

Carmen Antuña-Rozado (Corresponding Author), L. Wohlfart, V. Gandikota, Maria Åkerman, Henning Duderstadt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in a proceedings journalScientificpeer-review


Frugal innovation, well managed, offers numerous opportunities for the development of novel solutions with the participation of ordinary citizens, including those belonging to marginalized or vulnerable groups. Since it is about developing solutions that are not only useful and durable, but also affordable, with a clear economy of means, it is an option that cities and regions should consider, as they normally struggle with tight budgets and a lack of inspiring ideas while trying to keep up with a rapidly changing environment. Unlocking the creative potential of citizens in collaboration with the business sector through frugal innovation challenges, for example, can result in better services and products and help reposition the city or region as a hub of innovation, thereby attracting new talent and investments. The European project FRANCIS aims to develop frugal innovations through open innovation challenges involving different groups of citizens with the support of scientists and industry throughout the innovation process. Citizens can join the challenges through an online and face-to-face platform. Overall, FRANCIS does everything possible to activate and motivate civil society to participate in these challenges and ensure that potential barriers are overcome. In addition, behavioural testing and analysis is used to understand the most frequently encountered barriers at different stages of the frugal innovation process and to generate effective mitigation strategies. The project also aims to align the challenges with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) indicators. To maximize its impact, FRANCIS works consistently to encourage and engage interested cities and regions in the frugal innovation process together with their citizens. The city of Bielefeld in Germany is one of the pioneers that wants to increase its innovation potential through the establishment of international innovation partnerships, which in turn will attract and retain the highest level of talent and expertise. This paper will present the tools developed to date by FRANCIS project to guide and support the frugal innovation process with citizens so that it leads to a successful outcome, in addition to commenting on the Bielefeld case as an example for other cities interested in following the same path of innovation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012063
Number of pages11
JournalIOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventSBEfin 2022 Conference on Emerging Concepts for Sustainable Built Environment, SBEfin 2022: Online - Virtual
Duration: 23 Nov 202225 Nov 2022


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