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Palgrave Macmillan

The Frugal Innovator

Creating Change on a Shoestring Budget

ISBN 9781137335364
Publication Date May 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Frugal innovation is a powerful new model for creating solutions for a world struggling with rapid population growth, exploding demand from consumers on modest incomes, and global pressure to minimize environmental damage. This new wave of innovation started in the developing world but is spreading globally.

This inspiring book provides an insight into what promises to become a worldwide movement as large companies in developed economies start to learn from entrepreneurs in the developing world, who are coming up with radical solutions to pressing challenges. Frugal innovators follow four design principles to create these solutions: 'lean, simple, clean and social'.

Frugal innovators are devising these new solutions for clean water and energy, affordable housing and health care, because the constraints they work give them no option but to think radically and challenge conventional wisdom. By unpicking the principles, drivers and methods for frugal innovation, Leadbeater's analysis and case studies lead to practical 'how-to' strategies for applying frugal innovation wherever you work.

Charles Leadbeater is an independent advisor, best-selling author, award-winning journalist and recognized thought-leader on innovation whose advice is sought by governments, cities and organizations throughout the world. He was awarded the prestigious David Watt Prize for journalism after a distinguished career at the Financial Times, where we was Labour Editor, Industrial Editor and Tokyo Bureau Chief all by the age of 32, before leaving to become Assistant Editor at The Independent. Leadbeater went on to become a key advisor to Tony Blair's policy team at the Downing Street Policy Unit and the Department of Trade and Industry, specializing in the impact of the Internet and the knowledge driven economy, helping to shape government policy across a number of fronts. He is a senior research associate with Nesta, the UK's innovation fund, a trustee of the Nominet Trust, the social tech investment fund and has a long track record of involvement in social innovation, not least as chairman of the social enterprise Apps 4 Good. He was a co-founder of Participle, the public service design agency and is an associate of the Centre for London.

1. The Groundswell
2. Design Principles
3. Frugal Places
4. Frugal Methods
5. Conclusions


'The essence of the book is excellent…Leadbeater describes the kind of answers we need and shows how society could work in a constrained and crowded future' - Management Today
'Leadbeater...has carved out a reputation as an innovation guru...Reuse and recycling are core principles at the heart of his interesting new book" - Financial Times
'Charles Leadbeater is an acute free thinker. He sees trends and solutions where others see chaos and uncertainty. The Frugal Innovator is a challenge to us as well as a guide to the future.'
-David Miliband, President and Chief Executive Office, International Rescue Committee and former UK Foreign Secretary
'With a deep understanding of emerging forces, The Frugal Innovator provides excellent insights for those who want to win long-term, with a purpose driven business in an increasingly resource scarce environment.'
-Paul Ploman, CEO, Unilever
'Frugal Innovation is a vital contribution to our understanding of the decades ahead. The analysis is compelling; the solutions to the challenges of the 21st century, which sometimes seem overwhelming, are less likely to be found in western laboratories and more likely to be found in the rough-and-tumble suburbs of Lagos, Karachi or São Paulo. Charles Leadbeater has found a wonderful cast of characters innovating in places such as this and turned them into a story of hope for us all.'
-Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Adviser, Pearson
'If you feel that the word 'innovation' is now so overused it has become boring, this book is a great antidote.'
-Bruno Giussani, European Director, TED
'Charles Leadbeater is an inspiring and engaging story teller. His enthusiasm for innovations of all hues reflects in his narration that weaves easy to see patterns. He has seen the world of frugal innovation closely, and world over. He does not defend frugal innovation, he promotes it. Following his journeys over more than a decade can leave the reader breathless, wide-eyed and undoubtedly inspired.'
-Madhav Chavan, Founder and Chief Executive, Pratham
'Much about our modern economy is profligate and wasteful, and that includes how we do innovation, whether in the form of vast R and D labs or the almost instant obsolescence of digital consumer products. Charles Leadbeater once again brings together eloquence and a multitude of fascinating global examples to show us a better way, far more suited to an era of austerity and ecological constraint.'
-Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive, Nesta; Author of The Locust and the Bees
'This book is a celebration of ingenuity and creative magic; bringing to our attention great ideas that have bubbled to the surface from the most unlikely places. It celebrates a climate change of ideas and possibilities; promoting novel solutions to people's most pressing problems. The book is a joy; it is also an admonition. We are left grateful, knowing what is possible; and cautious, knowing how close to the edge we are all unknowingly living.'
-Mitch Besser, Founder, Mothers-2-Mothers
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