The project FRANCIS

The European project “FRANCIS” (which stands for “Frugal innovation by citizens for citizens”) aims to facilitate the development of simple, affordable, and sustainable solutions (“frugal innovations”) in Open Innovation challenges that involve citizens. Besides citizens, the project involves scientists and industry in the innovation process.

FRANCIS’ consortium includes seven organisations from six European countries – Fraunhofer (Germany), VTT and InnoFrugal(Finland), The Behavioural Insights Team (United Kingdom), Agorize (France), HELIOZ (Austria) and BSH Turkey (Turkey).

Citizens can join the challenges via our online platform by themselves or during our face-to-face/online events. Scientists offer method training and collect feedback during the challenges (“facilitators”). In addition, each participating team has a support “buddy” as main contact, who assists them in practical matters throughout the whole challenge process. They can also exchange directly with representatives from the companies that host the challenges (“industry coaches”).

This is the first challenge FRANCIS is running and the project is looking for the best ways to support teams. This means that different teams may receive different messages and different exercises. FRANCIS will then evaluate which ones worked best to support teams. FRANCIS is committed to treating everyone equally and fairly and ensure that everyone gets support.

The project also aims at aligning the challenges with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and indicators for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). The project develops an assessment framework for this purpose that will be tested in the challenges.


The current challenge

In total, there will be two challenges. Currently, the focus is on the first challenge. The scope of this challenge is on appliances and solutions for kitchen and household. Here is our challenge brief. You can find more information in our one-pager.

When you do household and kitchen chores, do you constantly feel something is missing to help you with these activities? Do you need quick and efficient solutions?

We are so happy to invite you to innovate with FRANCIS project and be the engineer or designer of your own space with the help of our team of mentors: industry coaches, buddies and facilitators.

FRANCIS open innovation challenge is for everyone, who needs simple, sustainable and affordable solutions at home, for example for food preparation, food preserving, cooking, washing the dishes and washing your clothes. You can take part and help conventional solution providers to improve their reach and even be a part of the business. We are also looking forward to your application if you are an entrepreneur, who is aware of these pain points, and have the motivation to offer solutions that can eventually be brought to market.

We invite everybody with a curious mind and an innovation spirit to the challenge To be eligible for participation you must be at least eighteen years old and have full legal capacity.

We specifically encourage participation of the following groups of citizens: troubled families, green minimalists, and independent senior citizens.


We specifically welcome citizens from India, Turkey, and Germany to the first FRANCIS challenge. If you come from a different country, we still welcome your participation if you speak one of the key languages of the challenge (English, Turkish, German). 

The challenge runs from January to July 2023. The first round of the challenge is open to everyone. The second and third round are restricted to teams selected from the previous rounds.

The first round is now extended till April 5, 2023.

Participate or support

Interested in joining? You can join as a participant or a supporter. You are free to leave the challenge at any point in time.

You can also check out our one-pager on both roles.

Our team for English-speaking participants and supporters

In case of questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our regional managers or buddies. You can also check out our FAQ section on Agorize’s platform at https://francis-challenges.agorize.com.

As a (potential) participant or supporter, please refer to our buddies. If you are a scientist or if you want to be a citizen ambassador (see below), please consult our regional managers.


Citizen ambassadors for FRANCIS

Various organisations support FRANCIS as ambassadors for the citizens, who participate in FRANCIS. They help us to align the challenge to the citizens’ needs and to spread the word about FRANCIS.

Interested in joining our network of ambassadors? Our Regional Managers are happy to answer your questions (see above). You can see an overview on our current ambassadors on our team page.

Outlook on the next Challenge

The second challenge will focus on solar disinfection. It will take place in 2024 and target minimalistic consumers, low-/middle-income households in (semi-)rural areas, people in refugee camps and micro-entrepreneurs. Countries in the focus of the second challenge are Germany, India, Bangladesh, and Uganda. You can check out Agorize’s platform at https://francis-challenges.agorize.com for updates on the second challenge.