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March, 2012:

Disruptive frugal innovation

The concept of disruptive frugal innovation refers to technological solutions that are able to do better with less. What is more, disruptive innovations have, at least in theory, the potential to unhinge well establish technological paradigms. Is frugal innovation a powerful tool in times of crisis? we don’t know yet. Certainly, frugal innovation have been around for centuries and it is gaining importance to serve the unpreserved markets in many low income countries.  The following video seems to prove that brilliant people in developed countries can provide smart cheap and valuable solutions…

What is innovation for?

Everybody talks about innovation. How to foster it, how to finance it and how to increase innovation capability. But what is innovation for? I’ve always thought that innovation should improve our life through an increase of efficiency and productivity. In a nutshell, more innovation would be equivalent to more leisure time. However this is contradicted by the reality. In our society an increase of productivity does not imply a decrease of work time. On the contrary, the present crisis is bound to threat even the current work rights. The crisis, we have been told, will require us to work more and for less money. It is pretty clear that innovation is not fulfilling its original purpose….

“Let us take an illustration. Suppose that, at a given moment, a certain number of people are engaged in the manufacture of pins. They make as many pins as the world needs, working (say) eight hours a day. Someone makes an invention by which the same number of men can make twice as many pins: pins are already so cheap that hardly any more will be bought at a lower price. In a sensible world, everybody concerned in the manufacturing of pins would take to working four hours instead of eight, and everything else would go on as before. But in the actual world this would be thought demoralizing. The men still work eight hours, there are too many pins, some employers go bankrupt, and half the men previously concerned in making pins are thrown out of work. There is, in the end, just as much leisure as on the other plan, but half the men are totally idle while half are still overworked. In this way, it is insured that the unavoidable leisure shall cause misery all round instead of being a universal source of happiness. Can anything more insane be imagined?”

Bertrand Russel, In praise of idleness

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