What is biomimicry?
Biomimicry is an innovation method that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul. Read “A Biomimicry Primer” by Janine Benyus.
Biomimicry thinking helps create products and processes that:
Are sustainable: Biomimicry follows Life’s Principles. Life’s Principles instruct us to: build from the bottom up, self-assemble, optimize rather than maximize, use free energy, cross-pollinate, embrace diversity, adapt and evolve, use life-friendly materials and processes, engage in symbiotic relationships, and enhance the bio-sphere. By following the principles life uses, you can create products and processes that are well adapted to life on earth.
Perform well: In nature, if a design strategy is not effective, its carrier dies. Nature has been vetting strategies for 3.8 billion years. Biomimicry helps you study the successful strategies of the survivors, so you can thrive in your marketplace, just as these strategies have thrived in their habitat.
Save Energy: Energy in the natural world is even more expensive than in the human world. Plants have to trap and convert it from sunlight and predators have to hunt and catch it. As a result of the scarcity of energy, life tends to organize extremely energy efficient designs and systems, optimizing energy use at every turn. Emulating these efficiency strategies can dramatically reduce the energy use of your company. Greater efficiency translates to energy cost savings and greater profitability.
Cut Material Costs: Nature builds to shape, because shape is cheap and material is expensive. By studying the shapes of nature’s strategies and how they are built, biomimicry can help you minimize the amount your company spends on materials while maximizing the effectiveness of your products patterns and forms to achieve their desired functions.
Redefine and Eliminate “Waste”: By mimicking how nature transitions materials and nutrients within a habitat, your company can set up its various units and systems to optimally use resources and eliminate unnecessary redundancies. Organizing your company’s habitat flows more similarly to nature’s, will drive profitability through cost savings and/or the creation of new profit centers focused on selling your waste to companies who desire your “waste” as a feedstock.
Heighten existing product categories: Biomimicry helps you see stale product categories in a radically different light. This new sight creates an opportunity for innovation.
Define new product categories and industries: Biomimicry can help you create disruptive technologies, that transform your industry or help you build entirely new industries.
Drive Revenue: Biomimicry can help you create whole new growth areas, reignite stale product categories and attract both customers who care about innovation and sustainability.
Build Your Brand: Creating biomimetic products and processes will help your company become known as both innovative and proactive about the environment.
Why biomimicry now?
We humans are at a turning point in our evolution. Though we began as a small population in a very large world, we have expanded in number and territory until we are now bursting at the seams. There are too many of us, and our habits are unsustainable. Having reached the limits of nature’s tolerance, we are finally shopping for answers to the question: “How can we live on this home planet without destroying it?”
Just as we are beginning to recognize all there is to learn from the natural world, our models are starting to blink out—not just a few scattered organisms, but entire ecosystems. A survey by the National Biological Service found that one-half of all native ecosystems in the United States are degraded to the point of endangerment. That makes biomimicry more than just a new way of viewing and valuing nature. It’s also a race to the rescue.
This above is an excerpt from an interview with Janine Benyus (read the full interview)