Are You Harnessing Biomimicry to Drive Innovation?

DrewCM's picture
Chat Date: 
Thu, Aug 09, 2012

This week's guest moderator is Graham Hill, a long-time #innochat regular and one of our European stalwarts. The following is his framing for this week's chat. Thanks, Graham...

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change."

 - Charles Darwin, voyager, naturalist and author of the ‘The Origin of Species’

Evolution, through the process of natural selection has been operating on the planet Earth for over 3.8 Billion years. It has resulted in an astounding array of life forms amazingly well suited to their environments.

At the heart of evolution is a simple process of chance mutation to an organism’s genome that gives rise to inheritable traits that give it an advantage. Organisms that have even the slightest of advantage survive better than others of the same species and give rise to fitter offspring that also carry the same advantage. And so the process of evolution proceeds in fits and starts. Just as it has been for 3.8 Billion years!

Whether you look at the stickiness of the gecko’s foot that allows it to stick to plate glass windows, or the wing tips of a soaring eagle that reduces its drag, or the constant temperature inside a termites nest in the African Savannah, natures breathtaking diversity is the result of evolution.

What if you could match your innovation challenge with a solution that nature has already evolved?  Or what if you could even replicate evolutionary natural selection and apply it to solve innovation problems inside a computer. These are all applications of BIOMIMICRY; "a design discipline that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies". (Janine Beyrus, founder of the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute and author of ‚Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature’.)

Well you can. In fact each of the three examples quoted above has been used to create radically new innovations inspired by nature. The gecko’s foot has resulted in super-sticky adhesives based on carbon nanotubes , the wingtips of an eagle has resulted in wingtips on commercial airliners that reduce drag and termite mounds has resulted in buildings that don’t need air conditioning to keep them at a constant temperature.

Isn’t it about time you were looking at BIOMIMICRY to provide a solution for your next innovation challenge?

Want to know more?

Biomimicry 3.8 Institute - http://biomimicry.net/

Janine Beyrus at TED - http://www.ted.com/speakers/janine_benyus.html

Framing Questions

  1. Have you seen any good examples of BIOMIMICRY being harnessed to drive innovation?
  2. At what stage in the innovation process can you harness BIOMIMICRY to drive innovation? How do you do it?
  3. Are there pitfalls or limits to harnessing BIOMIMICRY to drive innovation? How can you overcome them?
  4. Where will you look for BIOMIMICRY examples on your next innovation project?

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