Santa Clara University

Frugal Innovation Lab


The Frugal Innovation Lab operates in the context of the Silicon Valley, at the nexus of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. FIL is in a unique position to take advantage of interdisciplinary academic collaborations, Silicon Valley corporate partnerships, and lasting relationships with established social entrepreneurs to provide both academic and practical experience to students passionate about FIL’s mission.


FIL joins together three programmatic elements to form its core: Instruction, Innovation, and Immersion. Undergraduate and graduate engineering, business, law, and humanities students have the opportunity to take courses offered by faculty with diverse expertise in topic areas such as Engineering for the Developing World, Mobile Applications and Programming for Emerging Markets, and Technologies in Public Health.

Courses offered by FIL are informed by a network of global social entrepreneurs that offer their field-based insight to guide students in their studies and provide real world challenges for project teams to address. Innovative technologies and solutions that are developed by the students as a result of projects from FIL courses are then implemented in the field by the students themselves. Project teams then venture on an immersion trip to deliver and implement the solutions that they have engineered, where they have the opportunity to redesign their prototypes after they have been exposed to the cultural, societal, and resource implications of their particular project challenge.

Instruction Innovation Immersion
The Frugal Innovation Lab embodies 'Engineering with a Mission' by designing curriculum for both undergraduate and graduate students to engage in knowledge acquisition that directly informs students' ability to address challenges in emerging economies.
FIL is a collaborative space for students and faculty to engage industry partners and social entrepreneurs to research and design innovative technologies for new economy marketplaces.  The environment, along with expert faculty guidance, facilitates critical transition from theoretical learning to practical skill application. FIL's expansive network of social enterprises, corporate partners and academic mentors provide students with the opportunity to conduct field work to deliver and implement the technologies, products and/or solutions that they have developed.  Invaluable experience is gained while testing their designs in the field about resource constraints and cultural considerations that are highly relevant to the types of engineering projects that students will be facing in their upcoming careers.

Frugal Innovation Lab |  Bannan Labs Building 404
500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053
1-408-554-2334 |