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Tuesday, Jun. 21, 2011
In a recent topic on Forbes.com the hot topic was frugal innovation. Karl Moore talks about his recent trip to India and the “Jugaad mindset, a Hindi word that in a nutshell refers to making do with what one has to solve one’s problems.”
There are some key points to his article that illustrate the concept of frugal innovation and why it’s valuable.
1. Frugal innovation results in great value: no-frills, good quality, functional products that are also affordable to the customer with modest means.
2. Frugal innovation goes beyond clever R&D. It has a lot to do with process – maximizing the efficiency of the supply chain.
3. No fuel, no capital investment, almost no modern technology, and yet a high quality of service: that’s frugality at its best.
4. The circumstances of the operating environment matters a great deal when it comes to frugal innovation.
To compliment these ideas we have a list of core competencies that are taught in our Frugal Innovation Lab:
- Reliance on local materials and manufacturing
- User-centric design
Frugal Innovation has been part of local organizations and processes for decades, but applying these concepts to technological and multi-national organizations is where it will get interesting. Adopting the paradigm of frugal innovation should create better products with more efficient production and delivery. Overall this paradigm shift has the potential to create a positive impact for millions in underserved markets whether it’s in clean energy, health care, or mobile applications and instrumentation.
By Radha Basu, Regis and Dianne McKenna Professor of Science, Technology and Society at the Center for Science, Technology, and Society Dean's Executive Professor, School of Engineering. Radha served as the Managing Director of the Center for the 2009-2010 academic year.
Learn more about SCU's CSTS Frugal Innovation Intiative:
Thursday, Apr. 7, 2011
Just six months in to my new role as Executive Director for the Center for Science, Technology, and Society here in the heart of Silicon Valley, I am still the “new kid on the block” in the social entrepreneurship universe. Our focus at the Center is promoting the use of science and technology to benefit underserved populations worldwide, and the primary means by which we promote are through entrepreneurship and innovation. Specifically, we focus on helping social entrepreneurs build sustainable and scalable ventures through our pioneering Global Social Benefit Incubator™ program, now entering its 9th year, and more recently through the Frugal Innovation Lab initiative, a vision of my colleague Radha Basu.
One advantage of being the new kid is the opportunity to look at the neighborhood through a different lens. Another is to profess naïvete, often borne of genuine ignorance of the tremendous body of knowledge amassed by brilliant people around the world. With that caveat, how we can help entrepreneurs and innovators scale the best solutions to create impact at the level of the issues affecting poor communities around the world?
I know some incredibly intelligent folks who think in multiple dimensions; I’m limited to three. At my nascent stage of understanding, the axes are: technology, business model, and context. Technology innovations for social benefit are often considered in terms of the goods or services they provide to the poor. On a trip to visit social entrepreneurs in India in January, I observed that two very different needs—clean water and off-grid energy—could better scale through technology innovations enabling measurement and transactions. How do we foster, reward, and honor technology innovations throughout the value chain?
After more than a quarter of a century in Silicon Valley, it’s easy to think of business models in that vernacular: let’s make it as big of an enterprise as we can, as quickly as we can, to maximize the present value of our bottom line, be that single, double, or triple. I’ve met a lot of social entrepreneurs who are most passionate about serving communities they know personally—that’s anecdotal, not statistical. Moreover, mechanisms for accrual of benefits from scale through replication or franchising to the original entrepreneur or innovator are less evident in theory or practice. What are the right incentives for “open source” social entrepreneurship and who needs to “play”?
Assuming one can identify the best technology innovation to solve a particular social problem and the right business model for building a sustainable and scalable venture (or ventures), there are a number of other contextual factors that influence whether or not the venture will be successful. In the realm of genetics, these were referred to under the umbrella of ELSI (Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues). The people who live in the house down the street, or in this case the faculty in the building across the green on campus, look at the universe and the neighborhood through different lenses. How do we encourage meaningful research to identify success factors in social entrepreneurship based on sociological, cultural, political, and other contextual factors?
Thursday, Jun. 10, 2010
Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology and Society announces grant program for faculty and students.
SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 9, 2010 – The Center for Science, Technology, and Society is soliciting proposals for a grant program aimed at both faculty and students, with awards of up to $5,000 for faculty, up to $2,000 for individual student investigators, and up to $3,000 for student teams. The deadline for proposal submissions is September 3rd, 2010 for faculty, and October 1st, 2010 for students.
This is the Center for Science, Technology, and Society’s second year sponsoring a competition for funding to support projects that are commensurate with its mission, “to understand and enable the innovative application of science and technology for global human benefit.”
Examples of the areas of interest to the Center include, but are not excluded to:
- Investigation of the interfaces between science, technology, and society.
- Research, development, or application of science and technology for social benefit with particular interest in sustainable, clean technologies.
The program was inaugurated last year and involved awards amounting to $30,000 to support a dozen research proposals, with approximately $20,000 going to faculty projects, and $10,000 going to student projects. Recipients included two Engineering Senior Design teams who went on to put their plans in action for water filtration in rural Honduras and building design and construction in Ghana.
Applicants should submit their applications to Erin Berkenmeier (EBerkenmeier@scu.edu
) in PDF format by 5pm on the day of the deadline. Faculty proposals are due by September 3rd, 2010
, and student proposals by October 1st, 2010
. The grant program has been established by Jack Gilbert, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Santa Clara and Director of Sponsored Research at the Center. For more information and to download the application form please visit http://www.scu.edu/sts/Education/grants/2010.cfm
About the Center for Science, Technology, and Society
Founded in 1997, the Center for Science, Technology and Society is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University. The mission of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS) is to understand and enable the innovative application of science and technology for global human benefit. We pursue this mission by linking the practices of scholarship, education, and science and technology innovation, in order to foster conscientious and responsible action on behalf of those most in need. The Center's work is focused on three major activity areas: Social Entrepreneurship, Public Engagement, and Education. Within these areas, specific programs engage faculty, students, and other internal and external constituencies in fulfilling the mission of the Center. www.scu.edu/sts
About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California's Silicon Valley, offers its 8,758 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees, and engineering Ph.Ds. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. www.scu.edu