Inaugural Workshop

Inaugural Workshop
  • April 23, 2022 - 8:30am
  • TERI Retreat, Gwal Pahari, Faridabad-Gurgaon road, Haryana

The agenda of frugal innovation research today, does not only confine itself to low cost simple affordable innovation by the largest multinational but also includes in-depth studies of the dynamics behind numerous designs and innovations at the grassroots levels by various marginalized communities, social enterprises and other non-profit organizations. Thus, the research agenda of TRCFS also includes intentions of engaging in the debates and discussions on sustainability and inclusivity by trying to relate to activities such as ‘do it yourself ‘and ‘solidarity economy’. Such an agenda raises pertinent questions not only relating to policy and management but also relating to regulation and ethics in an eminent way.

This opens up the opportunity of cross-talk between these disciplines and fostering the scholarship on frugal innovation research in an important way.

The workshop will be a platform to discuss and share ideas for building a mechanism to synergize among stakeholders associated with frugal innovation research and practices. The workshop will address five thematic areas.

Technical Session 1: Ethics of Frugality

Ethics lies at the heart what frugality stands for. The main aim of the session is to explore and investigate the normative boundaries of frugality as an ideal, concept and practice. Some of the fundamental questions that we would like to address are- What is ethics of frugality? How do we develop frugality as an ethical value? What kind of ethical relationship can we think of between frugality and grassroots innovations? How does a just society address and execute the ideal of frugality in different sphere of sociality? And, what kind of reasonable and balanced relationship can we think of between ethics of frugality on the one hand and law, regulation, innovation, and environment on the other?

Technical Session 2: Frugality and Governance

Governance discourse has evolved to go beyond the organization of government and include the networks and autonomies of diverse actors making choices directly or indirectly relevant to public interest. This has led to experimentation and variations in governance at different scales. The immediate context and specific challenges of scale influence the choices made by individual actors, independently, or in relation to each-other. This fluid landscape of governance is conducive to the pursuit of frugal solutions as well as outcomes. This evolving domain of multi-actor, multi-scale, and overlapping governance choices necessitates a fresh look at the governance discourse from the perspective of frugality and vice-versa: How does the search for frugality enriches/dilutes the effectiveness of governance? How is frugality governed, is it possible?

Technical Session 3: Financing Frugal Innovation

Innovation requires substantial funds. Large Corporations’ innovations funding are accessible due to their credit worthiness. However frugal innovation financing in India has several challenges. There is limited government funding on innovations and R&D. Moreover frugal innovation financing is not a priority sector lending. Private venture funds may not be available unless such technological innovations have fairly high return on investments. Microfinance is another option, but cost of borrowing is pretty high. Despite all these challenges, one advantage in frugal innovation that emerges out is, it does not require large scale funding. Such large scale funding is required for high end technology. So the discussions in the workshop would address the issues and challenges related to financing frugal innovations. The panel would also try to explore new options of financing like crowd funding, CSR, and financing through consortium and platforms.

Technical Session 4: Regulating for Frugality

Regulations should be seen as providing a framework for incentivizing the role of specific stakeholders in the innovation process. Regulations may aim to provide for a floor or the basic minimum resources which may be required to gain State recognition. In establishing a floor, regulations could disproportionately impact stakeholders operating at the micro scale. A regulatory sandbox approach wherein regulators can be more sensitive to the range and scale of innovators and also allow the design of regulatory interventions for specific time scales and locations could possibly be a better way to address the issue of diversity in innovation practices and stakeholders. In this context, the aim of this session is to reimagine the legal and regulatory structure to incentivize a diversity of frugal innovations across sectors.


The workshop will include participation from academics, researchers, civil society members, innovators, public officials and scientists.


  • Start Date:April 23, 2022
  • Start Time:8:30am
  • End Date:April 24, 2022
  • End Time:5:00pm
  • Location:TERI Retreat, Gwal Pahari, Faridabad-Gurgaon road, Haryana