Title: Fostering the Sustainable Development Goals with technologies underpinned by frugal innovation

Authors: Alexander Ebolor; Nivedita Agarwal; Alexander Brem

Addresses: Chair of Technology Management, Friedrich Alexander University, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany ' Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Science, University of Stuttgart, Germany ' Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Science, University of Stuttgart, Germany; Mads Clausen Institute, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

Abstract: The race against time to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) intensifies, with inequality, poor living conditions, and biodiversity threats still prevalent. Achieving the SDGs is constrained by limited resources that require frugal solutions that are affordable, easy-to-use, ecologically sustainable, and socially inclusive. The role of infrastructure companies developing technologies with a frugal orientation that focus on the 17 SDGs must be at the core of efforts, because sustainable infrastructure is critical to the SGDs. This paper examines how such company-efforts foster the SDGs through the lens of frugal innovation. An exploratory multiple case study methodology was used with a 3-step and 4-dimensional evaluation approach to determine what technologies are fostering the SDGs, and their frugal characteristics. The results show that alternative resource and energy innovations are at the core of how infrastructure companies are promoting sustainability and fostering the SDGs. Most cases cluster around ecological contributions (mainly climate and energy), with sustainability and cost-effectiveness being the common characteristics. Implications for theory and practice are discussed, as well implications for policy-making.

Keywords: Sustainable Development Goals; SDGs; sustainability; frugal innovation; technology; sustainable cities; resource conservation; machine learning; artificial intelligence; infrastructure; infrastructure companies; frugal characteristics; cloud technology; clean energy; BoP.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2022.10045711

International Journal of Technology Management, 2022 Vol.88 No.2/3/4, pp.155 - 174

Received: 01 Aug 2020
Accepted: 15 Mar 2021

Published online: 16 Mar 2022 *

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