Lean solutions can help capture new markets

Zentrum für Frugale Produkte und Produktionssysteme (ZFP)
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Fraunhofer experts coach companies in the development of frugal products

Frugal innovations are based on clever concepts and a good understanding of customers’ needs. The recently opened Center for Frugal Products and Manufacturing Systems (ZFP) at Fraunhofer IAO and Fraunhofer IPA helps companies to break into cost-sensitive markets. This spring, ZFP is organizing a German edition of the InnoFrugal conference and also offering free coaching on the subject of “exploring projects.”

Developing simple, robust solutions on a tight budget can be quite a challenge, but often it’s exactly the right way to break into new markets. Yet, as experience shows, there’s generally more to entry-level “frugal” innovation than meets the eye. Bridging the gap between high quality and low price is often the result of a conscious decision to take a completely new approach. That’s the key takeaway from a variety of successful projects led by leading innovators. For several years now, a group of scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA have been running seminars, forums and projects designed to help companies tackle this complex process. Last year saw the opening of the Center for Frugal Products and Manufacturing Systems (ZFP). In its wake, there now come two new interesting offers for innovators fired up by the concept of “smart simplicity.”

Exploring Projects: personal mentoring from Fraunhofer experts

Exploring Projects is a program running at ZFP. It offers companies assistance with key aspects of the innovation process, ranging from strategic vision and road maps to product innovation and training programs in frugal design. In particular, Fraunhofer researchers provide active support at critical phases such as planning, generating ideas or deciding on a product’s key specifications. In addition, the ZFP offers keynote presentations, workshops and training courses designed to provide inspiration for companies formulating their own frugal projects. Companies with an interesting idea can apply to the ZFP for help in exploring its potential.

InnoFrugal Germany: where industry meets research

The international InnoFrugal Germany conference is to be held on April 9, 2019. It will showcase examples from a host of companies along with latest research in this field. Fringe events include a maker forum, a selection of workshops and an exhibition of frugal products.

Other activities at ZFP

As an offshoot of the ZFP project, planning is now under way to establish new labs at Fraunhofer IAO and Fraunhofer IPA. These will present frugal innovations in practice and provide a creative space for further work in this field. Invitations to help set up the labs have now been issued to innovators with exciting products and interior designers with creative ideas. Meanwhile, ZFP is preparing further events, such as workshops and seminars, and is also busy advising firms on how to develop frugal products and build up a corresponding market.