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Frugal Innovation by Citizens for Citizens

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FRANCIS (Frugal Innovation by Citizens for Citizens)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2021-02-01 do 2022-07-31

The European project “FRANCIS” aims at the development of frugal innovations in open innovation challenges that involve citizens. FRANCIS is the abbreviation for “Frugal innovation by citizens for citizens”. Besides citizens, the project involves scientists and industry in the innovation process. In total, there will be two challenges. The scope of the first challenge will be the culinary world and home care. Focused target groups are troubled families, people with a minimalistic live style and elderly people living alone. The second challenge targets solar disinfection. Target groups are minimalistic consumers, low-/middle-income households in (semi-)rural areas, people in refugee camps and micro-entrepreneurs. The target countries of the two challenges span from Turkey and Germany to India, Bangladesh and Uganda.

Citizens can join the challenges via an online platform. Scientists run workshops during the challenges that offer method training. In addition, each participating team gets a buddy, i.e. someone who assists them in practical matters throughout the whole challenge process (usually students or young professionals). They can also exchange directly with mentors from the companies that host the challenges. Extensive communication activities - by social media, videos, a blog and a podcast series - ensure an easy access for marginalised groups. In general, FRANCIS puts a lot of effort on ensuring that the civil society is activated and motivated to participate in the challenges and that potential barriers are overcome. This action is supported by behavioural tests and analyses, to gain insight into the barriers most typically encountered at different stages of the frugal innovation process and to generate effective mitigation strategies . The project also aims at aligning the challenges with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and indicators for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). The project will define an assessment for this purpose that will be tested in the two challenges.
FRANCIS has set up a scientific framework for the development of frugal innovations with citizens, the so-called Citizen Frugal Innovation (CFI) framework as well as the assessment for measuring the SDI and RRI impacts.
The team has run various round-tables with citizen and industry representatives and a number of interviews to learn from the experiences of both frugal innovators and citizen scientists.

Right now, the project consortium is preparing for the first challenge that will start soon, with a focus on three target countries.

Preparations include the following
- Development of multi-language challenge material
- Establishment of multi-language challenge website
- Definition and detailing of behavioural interventions

The project's activities are communicated to the public via a project website that includes a blog and videos as well as various social media channels.
1. Progress beyond the state-of-the-art

a. Frugal Innovation: From small-scale initiatives to solutions that have a real impact on the future of consumption

SOTA: Grassroots frugal solutions often lack the needed quality and scale to have a real impact.
Potential: FRANCIS will provide insights on how to ensure the quality and enable the scaling of Grassroots Frugal Inventions.

SOTA: Corporate Innovators, often lack the needed diversity of perspectives to come up with radically new concepts.
Potential: FRANCIS will demonstrate the value of including marginalized groups in innovation processes.

b. Citizen Science: From citizens supporting scientists to scientists supporting citizens

SOTA: Most of today’s citizen science benefits from citizens gathering data for scientists.
Potential: FRANCIS will put citizens in the driver seat to inspire solutions beyond the typical scope of academia and industry.

SOTA: Up to now just technical or scientifically interested people of certain societal groups join innovation challenges.
Potential: FRANCIS will develop ways to encourage and empower heterogenic actors of society to contribute to research and innovation activities

SOTA: Many citizens do not think they can contribute to research and innovation processes in a worthy way and so consequence stay away from opportunities to do so
Potential: FRANCIS provides a reusable methodology to help citizens to express and materialize their ideas.

c. Behavioral Science: From rewarding good citizenship to boosting creative abilities

SOTA: Current behavioral science initiatives focus on helping communities achieve their goals, such as tax payments, healthy nutrition, parental leave.
Potential: FRANCIS will set new standards concerning the empowerment of innovation based on insights concerning motivation and facilitation.

d. Open Innovation: From high-tech impulses to disruptive low-end solutions with a sustainable edge

SOTA: Most Open Innovation challenges follow a top-down approach aimed at identifying solutions for very specific technical issues.
Potential: FRANCIS will run two challenges aimed at developing completely new ways of solving a problem, based on a bottom-up approach.

SOTA: Many companies do not actually know how to integrate diverse actors into their research and development processes.
Potential: FRANCIS will develop reusable methods and strategies to identify, contact and involve citizens into the research and innovation processes.

2. Expected results (contributions)

- Two IT-supported Open Innovation challenges on Frugal Innovation (one on kitchen/household solutions and one on solar disinfection)
- Targeting of three to four countries per challenge, including emerging respectively developing ones
- Involvement of around 250 citizens per challenge, i.e. more than 500 citizens in total
- Inclusion of a high degree of women and marginalized groups in the challenges
- Toolbox for Citizen Frugal Innovation
- At least five product prototypes using renewable energy
- Insights on the motivations and needs of citizens with respect to their involvement in innovation
- Publication of a broad number of publications and data sets
- At least ten industry training sessions on Frugal Innovation

3. Potential impacts

- At least six Frugal Innovations on the market (three from each challenge) and five additional initiatives started within one year after the end of the project
- Evaluation data on the cost and benefits (social/democratic, economic, environmental) of the Frugal Innovations developed in FRANCIS based on a CFI framework
- A validated impact assessment tool based on the MoRRI Indicators and the SDGs that includes an online tool and user instructions

4. Current status of impact

- The project's existing draft CFI framework and assessment instrument can already help to advance research in both citizen science and frugal innovation.
- Available lessons learned related to the project can inform political stakeholders on how they can promote citizen frugal innovation (see policy recommendations).
- The project's approach to involve society and industry in joint innovation activities has already attracted the attention of external stakeholders, who are interested in running similar challenges.
Work packages (Pertt diagram)
Project idea: Open Frugal Innovation Challenges with Citizens
Challenge process