Perceived positive impacts of frugal innovation for sustainable global development have triggered a variety of programmes to foster such innovation. To increase the impact of these programmes, it is important to understand how they function. In this paper, we develop a conceptual framework for the analysis of interventions that foster frugal innovations through incubation. Drawing on relevant theories and concepts in the field of innovation and related literature, the framework is based on two major categories of factors influencing the nature and outcome of frugal innovation incubation. The first category relates to the incubation process, the second to the innovation environment. The proposed framework is applied to the case study of VIA Water, a Dutch programme to foster water innovation in African cities. The framework and the case study presented in this paper demonstrate the complexity of a frugal innovation incubation process and thus the need to take a holistic approach when designing and/or analysing related interventions. We conclude that frugal innovation incubation programmes should consider that the innovation capabilities of potential frugal innovators tend to be weaker in developing than in developed countries. Therefore, incubation programmes should devise strategies that present frugal innovators possessing local knowledge and creative ideas with a realistic chance of competing.
Andersen, A., Marìn, A. and Simensen, E. (2018) ‘Innovation in natural resource-based industries: a pathway to development?‘, Innovation and Development, 8, 1, pp.1–27.
Angot, J. and Plé, L. (2015) ‘Serving poor people in rich countries: the bottom-of-the-pyramid business model solution’, Journal of Business Strategy, 36, pp.3–15.
Autio, E. and Kloftsen, M. (1998) ‘A comparative study of two European business incubators’, Journal of Small Business Management, 36, 1, pp.30–43.
Barro, R. and Lee, J.-W. (2000) International Data on Educational Attainment Updates and Implications, NBER Working Paper7911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA.
Bergek, A. and Norrman, C. (2008) ‘Incubator best practice: a framework’, Technovation, 28, pp.20–8.
Bhaduri, S. (2016) ‘Frugal innovation by “the small and the marginal”: an alternative discourse on innovation and development’, inaugural lecture, Prince Claus Chair, Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, available at www.eur.nl/en/news/frugal-innovation-small-and-marginal-pcc-inaugural-lecture (accessed November 2019).
Bhatti, Y. (2012) What is Frugal, What is Innovation? Towards a Theory of Frugal Innovation, working paper, Said Business School, Oxford University, Oxford.
Bhatti, Y. and Ventresca, M. (2013) How can ‘Frugal Innovation’ be Conceptualized?, working paper, Said Business School, Oxford University, Oxford.
Brandsen, T. and Pestoff, V. (2006) ‘Co-production, the third sector and the delivery of public services’, Public Management Review, 8, 4, pp.493–501.
Chen, J., Tsou, H. and Ching, R. (2011) ‘Co-production and its effects on service innovation’, Industrial Marketing Management, 40, 8, pp.1331–46.
Chesbrough, H. (2006) Open Business Models: How to Thrive in the New Innovation Landscape, Harvard Business School Press, Cambridge, MA.
Cohen, W. and Levinthal, D. (1990) ‘Absorptive capacity: a new perspective on learning and innovation’, Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, 1, pp.128–52.
Cooper, A., Gimeno-Gascon, F. and Woo, C. (1994) ‘Initial human and financial capital as predictors of new venture performance’, Journal of Business Venturing, 9, pp.371–95.
Crespi, G., Katz, J. and Olivari, J (2017) ‘Innovation, natural resource-based activities and growth in emerging economies: the formation and role of knowledge-intensive service firms’, Innovation and Development, 8, 1, pp.79–101.
Daghfous, A. (2004) ‘Absorptive capacity and the implementation of knowledge-intensive best practices’, SAM Advanced Management Journal, 69, 2, pp.21–7.
Davies, G. (2016) Getting to Scale: Lessons in Reaching Scale in Private Sector Development Programs, Adam Smith International, London.
Dimov, D. (2010) ‘Nascent entrepreneurs and venture emergence: opportunity confidence, human capital and early planning’, Journal of Management Studies, 47, pp.1123–53.
Dolan, C. (2012) ‘The new face of development: the “bottom of the pyramid” entrepreneurs’, Anthropology Today, 28, 4, pp.3–7.
Drucker, P. (1985) Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles, Harper & Row, New York.
Dutta, S., Lanvin, B. and Wunsch-Vincent, S. (eds) (2016) The Global Innovation Index: Winning with Global Innovation, Cornell University/INSEAD/WIPO, Fontainebleau, Ithaca, NY, and Geneva.
Economist (2010) ‘The world turned upside down. A special report on innovation in emerging markets’, London.
Edquist, C. (ed.) (1997) Systems of Innovation: Technologies, Institutions, and Organizations, Pinter, London.
Efrat, K. (2014) ‘The direct and indirect impact of culture on innovation’, Technovation, 34, 1, pp.12–20.
European Union (2010) The Smart Guide to Innovation-Based Incubators (IBI), European Union, Luxembourg.
Freeman, C. (2002) ‘Continental, national and sub-national innovation systems – complementarity and economic growth’, Research Policy, 31, pp.191–211.
Fry, F. (1987) ‘The role of incubators in small business planning’, American Journal of Small Business, 12, 1, pp.51–61.
Gertner, D. (2013) ‘Unpacking incubation: factors affecting incubation processes and their effects on new venture creation’, PhD dissertation, Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Govindarajan, V., Trimble, C. and Nooyi, I. (2012) Reverse Innovation: Create Far from Home, Win Everywhere, Harvard Business School Press Cambridge, MA.
Granqvist, K. (2016) ‘Funding frugal innovations: lessons on design and implementation of public funding schemes for frugal innovations’, Technology Monitor, July–September, pp.31–7, available at http://techmonitor.net/tm/images/b/b8/16jul_sep_sf2.pdf (accessed November 2019).
Greenhalgh T., Robert, G., Macfarlane F., Bate, P. and Kyriakidou, O. (2004) ‘Diffusion of innovations in service organizations: systematic review and recommendations’, Milbank Q, 82, pp.581–629.
Gregersen, B. and Johnson, B. (1997) ‘Learning economies, innovation systems and European integration’, Regional Studies, 31, pp.479–90.
Gretzinger, S., Hinz, H. and Matiaske, W. (2011) ‘Strong ties, weak ties and the management of innovation: the case of Danish and German SMEs’ in Tuuanen, M., Windsperger, J., Cliquet, G. and Hendrikse, G. (eds) New Developments in the Theory of Networks: Franchising, Alliances and Cooperatives, Physica-Verlag, Heidelberg, pp.277–98.
Guan, J. and Ma, N. (2003) ‘Innovative capability and export performance of Chinese firms’, Technovation, 23, 90, pp.737–47.
Hackett, S. and Dilts, D. (2004) ‘A systematic review of business incubation research’, Journal of Technology Transfer, 29, 1, pp.55–82.
Hammond, A., Kramer, W., Katz, R., Tran, J. and Walker, C. (2007) The Next Four Billion, World Resources Institute and International Finance Corporation, Washington, DC.
Hekkert, M., Suurs, R., Negro, S., Kuhlmann, S. and Smits, R. (2007) ‘Functions of innovation systems: a new approach for analysing technological change’, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 74, pp.413–32.
Hofstede, G. (1997) Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, McGraw-Hill, London.
Huang, H. and Xu, C. (1999) ‘Institutions, innovations and growth’, American Economic Review, 89, pp.438–43.
Johnson, A. (2001) ‘Functions in innovation system approaches’ paper delivered at Nelson-Winter Conference, DRUID, Aalborg University, Aalborg.
Knorringa, P., Peša, I., Leliveldband, A. and van Beers, C. (2016) ‘Frugal innovation and development: aides or adversaries?‘, European Journal of Development Research, 28, pp.143–53.
Krishnan, R. (2010) From Jugaad to Systematic Innovation', Utpreraka Foundation, Bangalore.
Lalkaka, R. (1996) ‘Technology business incubators: critical determinants of success’, Annals of the New York Academy Sciences, 798, pp.270–90.
Levänen, J., Hossain, M., Lyytinen, T., Hyvärinen, A., Numminen, S. and Halme, M. (2016) ‘Implications of frugal innovations on sustainable development: evaluating water and energy innovations’, Sustainability, 8, 4.
Lundvall, B.-A. (ed.) (1992) National Systems of Innovation, Anthem Press, London.
Merrifield, D. (1987) ‘New business incubators’, Journal of Business Venturing, 2, pp.277–84.
Miles, W. (2014) Scars of Partition: Postcolonial Legacies in French and British Borderlands, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.
Moore, M. L., Riddell, D. and Vocisano, D. (2015) ‘Scaling out, scaling up, scaling deep: strategies of non-profits in advancing systemic social innovation’, Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 58, pp.67–84.
Mueller, V., Rosenbusch, N. and Bausch, A. (2013) ‘Success patterns of exploratory and exploitative innovation: a meta-analysis of the influence of institutional factors’, Journal of Management, 39, 6, pp.1606–36.
Mulgan, G., Ali. R., Halkett, R. and Sanders, B. (2007) In and Out of Sync: The Challenge of Growing Social Innovations, NESTA, London.
Mvulirwenande, S. and Wehn, U. (forthcoming) ‘Promoting smart water systems in developing countries through innovation partnerships: evidence from VIA Water supported projects in Africa’ in Han, D., Mounce, S., Scozzari, A., Soldovieri, F. and Solomatine, D. (eds) ICT for Smart Water Systems: Measurements and Data Science, Springer Nature, Basel.
Mvulirwenande, S., Alaerts, G. and Wehn, U. (2013) ‘From knowledge and capacity development to performance improvement in water supply: the importance of competence integration and use’, Water Policy, 15, S2, pp.267–81.
Nelson, R. (ed.) (1993) National Innovation Systems, Oxford University Press, New York.
Nijkamp, P. (2003) ‘Entrepreneurship in a modern network economy’, Regional Studies, 37, 4, pp.395–405.
Nonaka, I. and Takeuchi, H. (1995) The Knowledge-Creating Company, Oxford University Press, New York.
North, D. (1990) Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Nowak, M. and Grantham, C. (2000) ‘The virtual incubator: managing human capital in the software industry’, Research Policy, 29, pp.125–34.
Okey, M. (2014) ‘The scientific research wealth of African nations: do colonial origins matter?‘, International Journal of Education Economics and Development, 5, 1, pp.113–25.
Patton, D., Warren, L. and Bream, D. (2009) ‘Elements that underpin high-tech business incubation processes’, Journal of Technology Transfer, 34, pp.621–36.
Pestoff, V. (2006) ‘Citizens as co-producers of welfare services: preschool services in eight European countries’, Public Management Review, 8, 4, pp.503–20.
Peters, L., Rice, M. and Sundararajan, M. (2004) ‘The role of incubators in the entrepreneurial process’, Journal of Technology Transfer, 29, 1, pp.83–91.
Polanyi, M. (1966) The Tacit Dimension, Routledge, London.
Prahalad, C. (2005) The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Upper Saddle River, NJ, Prentice Hall.
Radjou, N. and Prabhu, J. (2015) Frugal Innovation: How to Do More with Less, Economist Books, London.
Radjou, N., Prabhu, J. and Ahuja, S. (2012) Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.
Rice, M. (2002) ‘Co-product on of business assistance in business incubators and exploratory study’, Journal of Business Venturing, 17, pp.163–87.
Rodrιguez-Pose, A. and Di Cataldo, M. (2015) ‘Quality of government and innovative performance in the regions of Europe’, Journal of Economic Geography 15, 4, pp. 673–706.
Rogers, E. (2003) Diffusion of Innovations, Free Press, New York.
Rubin, T., Aas, T. and Stead, A. (2015) ‘Knowledge flow in technological business incubators: evidence from Australia and Israel’, Technovation, 41/42, pp.11–24.
Schumpeter, J. (1934) The Theory of Economic Development, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Schwittay, A. (2011) ‘The marketization of poverty’, Current Anthropology, 52, 3, pp. 571–82.
Senge, P. (1990) The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, Bantam Doubleday Dell, New York.
Shane, S. (1993) ‘Cultural influences on national rates of innovation’, Journal of Business Venturing, 8, 1, pp.59–73.
Shane, S. (2000) ‘Prior knowledge and the discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities’, Organization Science, 11, pp.448–69.
Sharma, A. and Iyer, G. (2012) Resource-constrained product development: implications for green marketing and green supply chains', Industrial Marketing Management, 41, pp.599–608.
Shepherd, D., Patzelt, H. and Haynie, J. (2010) ‘Entrepreneurial spirals: deviation amplifying loops of an entrepreneurial mindset and organizational culture’, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 34, 1, pp.59–82.
Smilor, R. and Gill, M. (1986) The New Business Incubator: Linking Talent, Technology, Capital, and Know-How, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA.
Soni, P. and Krishnan, R. (2014) ‘Frugal innovation: aligning theory, practice, and public policy’, Journal of Indian Business Research, 6, 1, pp.29–47.
Spilling, O. (1996) ‘The entrepreneurial system: on entrepreneurship in the context of a mega-event’, Journal of Business Research, 36, pp.91–103.
Sun, H. (2009) ‘A meta-analysis on the influence of national culture on innovation capability’, International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 10, 3/4, pp.353–60.
Szulanski, G. (1996) ‘Exploring internal stickiness: impediments to the transfer of best practices within the firm’, Strategic Management Journal, 17, pp.27–44.
Teece, D. (1986) ‘Profiting from technological innovation: implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy’, Research Policy, 15, pp.285–305.
Ubels, J. and Jacobs, F. (2016) ‘Scaling: from simple models to rich strategies’, working paper, PPP Lab Food and Water, Rotterdam.
van Beers, C., Knorringa, P. and Leliveld, A. (2014) ‘Frugal innovation in Africa: towards a research agenda’, paper presented at the 14th EADI conference, Responsible Development in a Polycentric World, Bonn, June.
VIA Water (2015) Strategic Policy Framework, VIA Water, Delft, available at www.viawater.nl/via-water-strategic-policy-framework (accessed November 2019).
VIA Water (2017) unpublished programme database, VIA Water, Delft.
Voorberg, W., Bekkers, V. and Tummers, L. (2015) ‘A systematic review of co-creation and co-production: embarking on the social innovation journey’, Public Management Review, 17, 9, pp.1333–57.
Wang, C-H., Lu, I-Y. and Chen, C-B. (2008) ‘Evaluating firm technological innovation capability under uncertainty’, Technovation, 28, 6, pp.349–63.
Wehn, U. and Montalvo, C. (2018) ‘Exploring the dynamics of water innovation: foundations for water innovation studies’, Journal of Cleaner Production, 171, S, pp.1–19.
Westley, F. and Antadze, N. (2010) ‘Making a difference: strategies for scaling social innovation for greater impact’, Innovation Journal, 15, 2, available at https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8ae1/8a04b3f596783ecadf368adb41143cf40942.pdf (accessed November 2019).
Westley, F., Antadze, N., Riddell, D., Robinson, K. and Geobey, S. (2014) ‘Five configurations for scaling up social innovation: case examples of non-profit organizations from Canada’, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 50, 3, pp.234–60.
Wooldridge, A. (2010) ‘First break all the rules: the charms of frugal innovation’, Economist, 17 April, pp.3–5.
World Bank (2010) Innovation Policy: A Guide for Developing Countries, World Bank, Washington, DC.
Zawislak, P., Alves, A., Tello-Gamarra, J., Barbieux, D. and Reichert, F. (2012) ‘Innovation capability: from technology development to transaction capability’, Journal of Technology Management and Innovation, 7, 2, pp.14–27.
Zeschky, M., Widenmayer, B. and Gassmann, O. (2011) ‘Frugal innovation in emerging markets’, Research Technology Management, 54, 4, pp.38–45.