TUM.Idea - Innovation for Development Alliance

How can we transfer frugal innovation principles to a local scale and exploit global impact? How can frugal innovations stimulate entrepreneurship in developing countries to become a sustainable solution for fighting poverty? How can frugal innovations cope with the extraordinary pressure coming from the current pandemic?

Interdisciplinary research network for Frugal Innovation

TUM.Idea is one initiative among only a few that explores novel ways for universities to contribute to the economic, social, and environmental development in the global South and the global North.TUM.Idea aims to implement this pioneering role for accelerating and scaling frugal innovation & engineering with and last and tangible impact. The Technical University of Munich has with its research profile and study programs an outstanding role to play in actively contributing to the current epochal change. TUM.Idea bundles the diverse expertise within TUM across all disciplines and locations in the interdisciplinary research for Frugal Innovation by working and teaching on an improved understanding of Frugal Innovation, by driving new research projects in the areas of Medical, Energy/Water/Food and Mobility. 


Our Vision

We use our knowledge for good.

An awakening between disciplines shall create social impact by overcoming current challenges in the Global South. TUM.Idea, Innovation for Development Alliance, strives to build a multidisciplinary coalition of partners to

  • empower people to design & create their own technology solutions to contribute to sustainable development
  • make the enormous innovative potential of one of the best universities in the world accessible to solve societal challenges
  • to create collaborative projects and environments across faculties and industries for frugal innovation and technology transfer

Our Mission

TUM.Idea is a knowlege hub for sustainable development projects to

  • build bridges to leverage science & technology for lasting impact
  • make TUMs unique technological expertise and innovation competence available to society
  • accelerate Frugal Innovation & Sustainable Entrepreneurship to improve the quality of life for underserved communities around the globe
  • provide an inspiring platform of network that is required for breakthrough solutions and actionable outcomes to emerge and address the major challenges of our time

Frugal Innovation

Frugal Innovation is gaining popularity in the way innovation is perceived and realised. Over the last few decades, it has attracted the attention of the global North and the global South as an alternative form of innovation and entrepreneurial model. It offers various advantages over the prevalent model of growth, prominent among them are sustainability, localised manufacturing, low carbon footprint, circular economy and social entrepreneurship.

TUM.Idea compromises the entire participatory creation process of sustainable solutios for consumers of the global South and the global Norht. We focus on a design innovation process to solve sustainability challenges through appropriate, affordable, and accessible services and products. Frugal innovations are sustainable solutions that address immediate needs and integrate a long-term outlook while prioritizing all business stakeholders: the end consumers, the environment and future generations.

  • frugal models improve social, environmental and economic sustainability
  • frugal innovations are sustainable solutions that address immediate needs and integrate a long-term outlook
  • frugal innovation can make a high contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set by the United Nations and intended to be achieved by the year 2030


In order to achieve the strategic goals mentioned above, the following TUM.Idea programs build the foundation: 

  • TUM.Idea Student Program: engaging the next generation of studetns to fight today´s complex challenges by looking beyond the edge to create sustainable impact.
  • TUM.Idea Resarch Program: engaging a multidisciplinary colaition of change agents to research and design on impactful engineering solutions.
  • TUM.Idea Sustainable Entrepreneurship Program: stimulating entrepreneurship in the Global South to fight poverty.
  • TUM.Idea Collaboration Program: initiating collaborative projects and environments across faculties and industries for frugal innovation and technology transfer.