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Frugale Innovationen: © Fraunhofer-Zentrum Leipzig

TUHH and Fraunhofer Co-Operate to Research Frugal Innovations

Frugal innovations are the new trend in Western industries now being analysed by TUHH and the Fraunhofer Centre for International Management and Knowledge Economy Research

The “PotFrugInno” joint project by the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy and the Hamburg University of Technology is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Federal Funds for Research Project

The project titled “Potential, Challenges and Social Relevance of Frugal Innovations in the Context of Global Innovation Competition” or “PotFrugInno” for short officially started this month. The joint project between the Fraunhofer Centre for International Management and Knowledge Economy and the Institute for Technology and Innovation Management (TIM) at the Hamburg University of Technology is being supported by the Innovation and Technology Analysis programme (ITA) of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The first meeting provided an opportunity to talk about the project objectives, the upcoming project phases and the expected results.

Essential & Successful

The research project focuses on “frugal innovations.” These are products that are consistently optimised in terms of their core tasks and the features that users consider to be essential, which allows for a good sales price and new target groups. Emerging markets like China and India are establishing themselves as leading markets for frugal innovations. Rapid economic growth in these countries has supported the development of a new middle class, which is interested in affordable, simple technology solutions and products. Thus the rising middle classes are inspiring growth and innovation not just in their own countries, but increasingly in industrialized nations as well.

The Sociopolitical Relevance of Frugal Innovations

In this project, the research partners are investigating the sociopolitical relevance of frugal innovations, and their current and future areas of influence in the German research and innovation system. The focus is on innovation paths that particularly support the development of these types of innovations. Based on the example of the automotive supply industry, a comparative study will be used to identify and analsze German and Indian innovation paths. Each sector’s innovation systems will be investigated as a foundation for this. The research will focus on their framework conditions and incentive systems for developing the predominant innovation paths in India and Germany.

Potentials & Risks

In the course of the project, researchers will obtain initial findings about potentials and risks for Germany that arise from the frugal innovation model. One of the main questions to be investigated in this project is how innovation paths for frugal innovations – which still mainly come from emerging markets – differ from innovations in industrialised nations. German companies will be able to use the project findings in their efforts to develop need-based technologies and products for price-sensitive customers. The research results will help stabilise Germany’s locational advantage in the international competition.
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