2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: Frugal Innovation - Simple Designs To Improve Lives

Written by Megan Simpson | March 4, 2014

At SXSW 2014, José‎ Briones tells how to improve lives with frugal innovation

José‎ Briones was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States when he was twenty years old. He has commercial and technical experience in the manufacturing and technology industries, and has held positions in the areas of marketing, innovation, sales, engineering and research and design with Fortune 300 companies, custom manufacturing operations and software companies. This installment of the Session Spotlight highlights his 2014 SXSW Interactive session, “Frugal Innovation - Simple Designs To Improve Lives.”.

SXSW: What is “frugal Innovation” all about?
Briones: Eighty percent of humanity lives on less than $10/day. If you are part of the world's lowest socioeconomic level you may be living in a house that can barely be called that. It may be a collection of sticks, cardboard and a plastic sheet. Enter frugal innovation: In this presentation we explore simple, low cost, effective and proven global design solutions that do not require exotic technology but that when combined can dramatically improve the quality of life of people around the world. Recent examples of successful design that have raised living standards in developing countries will be shown.

SXSW: Have you delivered a presentation on this topic before?
Briones: Yes, at the 2013 Social Good Summit in Austin. I received many compliments as to the goals of the work, and the value that these innovations deliver for a very low cost.

SXSW: Who will benefit from listening to this session?
Briones: Social innovators, social entrepreneurs, innovators interested in frugal innovation, frugal engineering or Jugaad should definitely attend. Product managers and product marketing managers, interested in developing and commercializing products for developing nations, will also find this session interesting. Technical managers interested in the concept of reducing the complexity of products would also be a good fit.

SXSW: Why should these groups of registrants attend?
Briones: SXSW is now a conference of global importance. The session deals with how to effectively implement design solutions on a global scale for populations in developing nations.

SXSW: And at the end of the session, what will people know about this?
Briones: Does innovation always require complex or exotic technology? What are cost effective approaches to improve the lives of the largest number of people around the world? Does innovation always have to originate in developed nations? What are important considerations when creating products for developing nations? Are there simple innovations that can be implemented now to improve the quality of life of people around the world?

SXSW: Have you been to SXSW before? Why is speaking at the festival this year a big deal?
Briones: Yes, I have attended twice promoting two startup product launches. It has been incredibly valuable. SXSW has become perhaps the most important technology conference in the U.S. with a broad spectrum of influencers and global reach.

SXSW: How do you connect with others interested in frugal innovation?
Briones: I keep a blog and use Twitter. My Twitter handle is @Brioneja. My tweets are reflective of my blog content and address innovation, design and technology.

SXSW: Not necessarily related to your speaking topic at SXSW, what is your favorite book from the last year and why?
Briones: Race Against the Machine by Andrew McAfee. It deals with the social impact of the acceleration of technology.

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. For tips on interesting sessions to attend, visit the new Recommendation page. Register now to attend, “Frugal Innovation - Simple Designs To Improve Lives” and other incredible programming at SXSW Interactive 2014.