Frugal innovation is distinctive in its means and its ends. It responds to limitations in resources, whether financial, material or institutional, and using a range of methods, turns these constraints into an advantage.
Through minimising the use of resources in development, production and delivery, or by leveraging them in new ways, frugal innovation results in dramatically lower-cost products and services. Successful frugal innovations are not only low cost, but outperform the alternative, and can be made available at large scale. Often, but not always, frugal innovations have an explicitly social mission.
Examples of frugal innovation are found throughout the Indian innovation system: from Dr Devi Shetty's path-breaking model of delivering affordable heart surgery at Narayana Hrundayalaya, to efforts to crowdsource drug discovery driven by government labs, to Bharti Airtel's approach to cutting the cost of mobile phone calls. Here we briefly profile just a few of the examples covered in the report.