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Indo-Finnish workshop on Inclusive and Frugal Innovation

Indo-Finnish workshop on Inclusive & Frugal Innovation was conducted on Wednesday 10th December, 2014 at IIT Delhi campus.

The opening remarks were done by Dr. Anil Wali, Managing Director at Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer, IIT Delhi and Ms Silva Paananen, Partner for Tekes in India.

I first heard about this proposed workshop sometime in early November 2014 via Mari Hakkarainen, TEM. I was really looking forward to attend this workshop and talk about Frugal & Inclusive Innovation in Nordic Countries and also meet with other actors from Finland and India in this field.

The Nordic Frugal Innovation Society was represented at this workshop by two of our co-founders- Antti Öhrling and I.

My talk concentrated on

  • how Nokia 1100 mobile phone made cell phones available to the common man in the developing world
  • how Onnibus is out competing both Expressbus and VR train in offering low cost travel along with gadget cahrging poits and free onboard wifi
  • how Millions of customers endure the hassle and frustration of assembling IKEA flat-pack furniture at home and couple of reasons behind that success: IKEA’s products are stylish and they are very cheap
  • how Tekes with it’s BEAM (Business with Impact) program and Sitra with it’s Resource Wisdom program are turning the spotlight on innovation ecosystems focssing on creating resource constrained innovation in Finland and emerging economies

I also talked about Finland and other EU countries entering an era of

  • Low / Jobless Growth
  • Rich-Poor divide increasing
  • Deleveraging in both public and private Sector
  • Rapidly ageing societies

One important thing that needs to be tackled is that despite a lot of good thinking and a few good examples, many frugal products often have difficulty scaling up and attaining profitability.

I also outlined the co-operation possibilities between Finland India in the field of Frugal Innovation:

  • Urbanisation/Smart Cities
    • Infrastructure development
    • Water
    • Waste management
    • Logistics etc….
  • Mobile Technology – Connecting the Unconnected & E – Learning
  • Co-creation – New Business Models & Made in India
  • Health and Well-being – Healthcare services and Digital medicine
  • Energy and Electric Power – Regional Integration and Renewable power
  • Food & Agriculture
  • Financial Services -Emerging markets

Others from the Finnish delegation who talked were Mr. Petri Peltoen from Minstry of Employment and Economy and Mr. Christopher Palmberg from Tekes. Petri talked about the overall co-operation possibilities and Christopher focussed mainly on the Tekes-BEAM program and it’s possibilities. Ms. Ulla Koivukoski from Comptel Ltd talked big data and how it can be an enabler of Frugal Innovation.

There were also several interesting and inspiring talks given by the Indian counterparts as well. For example, Mr Mahesh Patel, National Innovation Officer with National Innovation Foundation-India gave inspiring examples of Indian Jugaad innovations as well as an overview of an extremely interesting program called Shodh Yatra. Shodh Yatra is to undertake a journey for the search of knowledge, creativity and innovations at the grassroots. They reach out to the most remote parts of the country that the hardship and challenges of natural surroundings are prime motivators of creativity and innovations. Shodh Yatra aims at unearthing such traditional knowledge and grassroots innovations. Shodh Yatra is also a journey of mutual exchange and sharing of knowledge. Whatever knowledge and practices that we have pooled in, over the years are shared with the villagers during the Shodh Yatra.

Other Indian participants like Mr. Sachin Gaur from Mixorg ltd talked about mobile technology and healthcare apps making a difference, while Prof Vijayaraghavan Chariar and Mr Uttam Banerjee showcased their dry toilet technology and its current demonstrations. There was also Prof. M. Balakrishnan from IIT Delhi showcasing amongst other things an affordable device for blind, Prof. V K Vijay from IIT Delhi showcasing rural biogas generation techniques and Mr. Amit Bhatnagar from Accuter Tech showcasing a very affordable and portable diagnostic device system.

Overall I came back to Finland very energised by what is happening in India and with a whole bunch of ideas on Finnish-Nordic-Emerging Markets co-operation possibilities in Frugal Innovation.