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Frugal Innovation and Digitalization :

Crossing Boundaries and Creating Impact

Frugal innovation has gained considerable global acceptance in research, practice, teaching, and society. Frugal innovation is centered on the development of products, services, technologies, and business models that target affordability while minimizing use of resources and creating simultaneous business, social, and/or environmental impact through innovation networks and ecosystems. Recent research also points towards the use of pervasive digital tools, technologies, platforms, value chains, and business models to drive frugal innovation. Digital tools such as SMACIT (Social Media, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, and IoT) lower the barriers of entry and enable the development of open, accessible, and affordable products and services. Moreover, the fusion of frugal and digital realms can help achieve sustainability in general, and especially UN`s global sustainable development goals (SDGs) in a scalable and impactful manner, for example by providing digitally-enabled, affordable access to healthcare, sanitation, education, and ensuring food security. Finally, also ethical concerns such as data security and ethics in the development of new products should be taken into consideration.

Nevertheless, the advancement of the scholarly discourse has also brought to fore several new research issues that need attention of the research community. These emerging research issues include, but are not limited to, the following:

• What sectors are especially promising for frugal products and services? Can these sectors also benefit from digitalization?
• How can digital transformation contribute to the development of innovative frugal solutions and their diffusion?
• What policy measures may be required to foster development of responsible frugal innovations to tackle grand challenges (such as sustainability, education, and healthcare)?
• What dimensions of affordability (e.g. monetary, societal, and environmental) must be addressed by firms while creating frugal solutions?
• What is the role of networks and ecosystems in creating frugal technologies?
• In what ways do frugal, social, and responsible innovations overlap each other?
• What is the role of ethics in general, and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in specific, in developing frugal innovations?
• How global changes in terms of environmental challenges, growing cross-border migrations and social challenges are motivating frugal innovations?


The special track is conceptualized as a multidisciplinary track that will seek contributions from a variety of sources and welcome papers with both conceptual and empirical focus. We aim to elevate and evolve academic and practitioner discourses on the phenomenon of frugal innovation. We invite papers from researchers in management sciences, economics, and engineering disciplines with the purpose of generating new insights by trans-disciplinary integration of relevant themes. We envisage several contributions from R&D-intensive disciplines such as healthcare, nanotechnology, supply chain, and food production that lead in digitalization for driving affordability and sustainability outcomes.


  • Suchit Ahuja 
  • Rajnish Tiwari 
  • Stephanie Cadeddu 

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