The research project focuses on “frugal innovations”. These are products that are consistently optimized 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.


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 analyze 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.


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 industrialized 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 stabilize Germany’s locational advantage in the international competition.


August 2015 – July 2017



The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of the ITA programme (Analysises on Innovation and Technology).
Further Information (in German):

Further Information

Download: Projekt-Flyer, PDF, ca. 1 MB