Frugal innovation

One can hardly fail to notice the trendiness of innovation in and for emerging markets.

Frugal innovation nowadays comes in a variety of forms: reverse innovation (when products/services developed specifically for emerging-markets make it back to developed economies) and jugaad (the gutsy art of overcoming harsh constraints by improvising an effective solution using limited resources) both place emerging markets at the center of the innovation process.

While there are already some documented cases of emerging market innovations making it back to emerged markets (e.g. GE Healthcare’s portable ECG in India and ultrasound in China), it remains to be seen to what extent multinationals will take the risk of cannibalizing their own products. That of course also depends on whether emerging market multinationals will let them the time to think about it!