LDE minor Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development

The joint Leiden, Delft, Erasmus (LDE) Minor Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development is a multidisciplinary course for third-year bachelor students from the LDE universities.

Overexploitation and unsustainable use of resources lead to resource destruction, including extinctions, environmental degradation and climate change. To overcome these threats, frugal innovations combine the sparing use of global and local resources while maintaining and/or improving affordability, basic functionalities and an optimised performance. Frugal innovation centres on the (re)design of products, services and systems to decrease price and production costs without compromising on utility and ease of use. One can think of low priced sustainable energy sources, more affordable health appliances, context-specific irrigation systems or weather stations, mobile banking applications, etc. Frugal innovations take scarcity and not abundance into account, aiming to do more and better with less.

The minor offers an in-depth insight into how and under which conditions these innovations can be accomplished and contribute to sustainable global development. As frugal innovation demands an interdisciplinary approach, this minor combines the unique knowledge and expertise of lecturers and students from the universities of Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam. The first quarter of the minor explores how frugal innovation can be defined and analysed; what frugal innovation implies for technology, entrepreneurship and development; and how and under which conditions frugal innovation can contribute to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. In terms of learning methods, lectures, readings, online session and meeting with expertise, NGOs, businesses and policy makers in the field are combined with practical laboratory work. During this period students are also prepared for a challenge-based field assignment that will take place in the second half of the minor, and could include a field visit abroad. The option to travel will be determined by the travel restrictions as specified by Leiden University on their Health and Safety website. The minor concludes in the last week of January 2025, during which students will present the results of their field assignment, reflect on and evaluate their experience in the field.


A maximum of 40 students (equally distributed among the three LDE universities) will be admitted and an equal distribution among disciplines will be aimed for. The minor has a layered first-come-first-serve admission procedure. Applications have to be submitted via EduXchange between 15 and 31 May (closes 13:00 CET on 31 May!) together with a Background and Commitment Form. Also submit your up-to-date CV to minorfrugalinnovation@asc.leidenuniv.nlIncomplete applications will not be taken into consideration.

More information on the course programme and application procedure can be found in Leiden University's e-prospectus and on the International Centre for Frugal Innovation website.

Contact: minorfrugalinnovation@asc.leidenuniv.nl

Photo: 'Water Roller' is a device for carrying water more easily and efficiently than traditional methods. Photo (cropped) by Albert Gonzalez Farran / UNAMID CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr.