Convergence 2005 report: Biomimicry offers amazing opportunities for innovation

One of the highlights of Innovation Convergence 2005 was a fascinating presentation by Janine Benyus, a biologist and author of several books on biomimicry. The earth's creatures display a surprising array of adaptations, honed over billions of years of natural selection, which make them supremely adapted to their environments. Biomimicry suggests that we can learn from nature's innovative solutions, and design products that are more efficient, environmentally friendly and sustainable.

One of the highlights of Innovation Convergence 2005 was a fascinating presentation by Janine Benyus, a biologist and author of several books on biomimicry. The earth’s creatures display a surprising array of adaptations, honed over billions of years of natural selection, which make them supremely adapted to their environments. Biomimicry suggests that we can learn from nature’s innovative solutions, and design products that are more efficient, environmentally friendly and sustainable. “We’re surrounded by genius,” Janine explained.

She walked the audience through dozens of examples, most of which are being investigated by universities and start-up companies around the globe:

  • The abalone produces mother of pearl out of minerals and protein in sea water – a material that is harder than any known ceramic.
  • Spiders produce a type of silk thread called a “dragline” – which is, ounce for ounce, 5 times stronger than steel.
  • Researchers are now looking at ways to extract carbon from carbon dioxide, and using it to produce plastics – now formulated from oil (which is made of long chains of hydrocarbons).
  • The shell of the mollusk is designed in a logarithmic spiral shape, which has inspired Pacific Scientific to design fans with the same shape. Amazingly, these spiral blades are 75 percent quieter and are 50 to 80 percent more energy efficient than conventional fan blades.

So how can you transfer insights about nature’s adaptations into successful products? One way Janine suggested is to ask yourself: “What in nature is being challenged by something similar to what I’m facing, and is very successful in meeting that challenge?” She also points out that “Life creates conditions that are conducive to life” – continuation of the species. How can we use this idea to create more sustainable innovations?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard that a biologist would be talking to our group about this obscure topic. But Janine’s presentation blew away the entire audience! Clearly, this is an area that’s going to be growing in importance to companies and entrepreneurs worldwide!

If you want to learn more about this fascinating topic, please visit the Biomimcry Guild’s website.

Ad

STAY CONNECTED

 
Ad