Second-degree frugal innovation in the Belgian healthcare system

Marieke Maertens
Katrien De Schepper
Lieven De Couvreur
Maya Hoveskog
Nicole Norris
Francesca Ostuzzi

Department of Industrial Systems and Product Design, Ghent University, Kortrijk, Belgium | Industrial Design Center, Howest University College, Kortrijk, Belgium | Department of Innovation Management, School of Business, Engineering and Science, Halmstad University, Sweden | Centre for Changemaking and Social Innovation, Georgian College, Barrie, Canada


The innovation space created by designers within healthcare is meant to empower users (e.g., nurses, patients and therapists). Due to the variety of users and systems involved, this is a complex task. Often products fall short or do not bring the empowerment they promise, eroding “our sense of independence” (McDonagh & Thomas, 2010, p. 182). In this context, the concepts of frugal innovation and sustainability-as-flourishing have been implemented. Specifically, we asked 10 design teams to redesign idiosyncratic hacks generated by local healthcare professionals with the goal of upscaling into marketable products-systems for flourishing, without losing the goodness of fit. Even though the process produced very interesting business ideas, that still would fit with the idea of frugal innovation (in terms of cost reduction and locality, for example), some tensions have been highlighted and discussed in the paper.

Second-degree frugal innovation in the Belgian healthcare system


Author(s) (2020). Article title. In Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD9) 2020 Symposium. Ahmedabad, India, October 9-17, 2020.

Posted Oct-2020

RSD proceedings are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

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The Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium,, is November 3-6, 2021. 

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