biomimicry: nature inspired technology in nature, there is absolutely no waste. everything either is

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  • Biomimicry: Nature Inspired


    14 May 2019


    Executive summary 03

    Introduction to Biomimicry 05

    History of Biomimicry 08

    Levels of Biomimicry 09

    The need for Biomimicry 09

    Biomimicry Innovations 13

    Emerging trends in the application of Biomimicry 16

    Biologists at Design Table 17

    Databases of Biomimicry 18

    Critique of Tools 18

    Case Studies of Biomimicry 20

    Biomimicry and Sustainability 23

    CONTENT Page 02

  • In nature, there is absolutely no waste. Everything either is a nutrient or an ingredient. The

    imitation of these knowledgeable earthly designs and processes can help people save

    energy-saving technologies, reject toxins, reuse any material and work as a system to

    create life-friendly conditions.

    We live in a period of exponential change and transformation in the social and

    technological field. The rate of digitalization and connectivity is rapidly increasing. This

    increasing complexity and the global impact of our actions are some of the greatest

    challenges we face today. Therefore, more than ever, new approaches and organization

    forms are urgently needed, as linear thinking patterns and hierarchies are increasingly

    inappropriate to tackle complex questions.

    The practice of biomimicry always starts with the vital process of understanding how would

    nature act in certain situations and this often leads to new ideas that are evolving to fit the

    context, tested for many years to be proven safe for the current generation and the ones

    to come. Biomimicry is divided into three levels that aid us in the design of an innovation

    that supports a circular economy and creates conditions conducive to life.

    Biomimicry addresses all types of sustainability issues and revolutionizes the economy in

    all sectors. It analyzes and abstracts functional principles of nature and applies them to

    economic and socio-cultural matters. The principle behind biomimicry is the development

    of organisms and biological systems over a period of 3.8 billion years, with brilliant

    mechanisms of adjustment superior to our inventions and solutions. Whether architecture,

    mobility, energy generation, packaging or organizational structures poses problems, then

    nature can provide many answers. In particular, biomimicry utilizes the full range of

    biological systems–from microscopic cells to complex behaviors of whole ecosystems–as

    models and design criteria that provide new and unexpected solutions. Essentially,

    biomimicry consolidates thousands of years of development into one creative and open-

    ended process of innovation.

    This report is breaking down the practice of biomimicry and its history, why is it needed

    and how it differs from other bio-approaches. We’re understanding how Russia has been

    evolving their technology and using nature as the main inspiration behind their designs

    and how it is going to be leading their industries in the future. Lastly, how through

    biomimicry, designers can lead the development of technologies with net zero or net

    positive environmental consequences.


  • Introduction

  • Introduction to Biomimicry

    Nature has long been a source of inspiration for designers and engineers in their quest to solve many of humanity’s problems, and in the industrial world nature is increasingly seen as a model and a reference point. “Biomimicry” is the name given to nature inspired innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by

    emulating nature's time-tested patterns and strategies, according to the Biomimicry Institute.2 The core idea is that over the course of thousands of years of evolution, nature has already perfected solutions to many of the problems we are grappling with.3 Biomimicry is an emerging area of study that is seeing rising demand for theoretical and practical training and there has been a fivefold increase in biomimicry patents and research grants since 2000. A report by the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute suggests that biomimicry could account for US$ 425 billion of gross national product (GNP) and $1.6 trillion of global output by 2030. Biomimicry holds tremendous potential at this critical point in human history to inspire eco-friendly designs in technology.

    Definition of Biomimicry

    The word “biomimicry” means the imitation of life and it comes from a combination of the Greek words “bios” which means life and “mimikos” meaning imitation. In 1962, the term biomimicry was first used as a generic term that referred to cybernetics as well as bionics. Bionics is defined as ‘‘an attempt to understand sufficiently well the tricks that nature actually uses to solve her problems’’ and it is closer to the meaning of “biomimicry’’ as it has been used by scientists since the 1980s. In fact, the term bionics was used earlier to cover the same area of today's term biomimicry. Through Janine Benyus’s book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, biomimicry became the preferred name.

    Biomimetics is a multidisciplinary field that involves design and manufacturing of various commercial materials and apparatuses based on the biological function and structure of different objects and organisms found in nature.

    Biomimicry refers to studying nature’s most successful developments and then imitating these designs and processes to solve human problems. It can be thought of as “innovation inspired by nature” – Janine Benyus.6

    Professor Robert J Full from the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, explains why biomimicry often involves direct copying of nature. “Evolution isn't a perfecting principle; it works on the principle of “just good enough”. If you really want to design something for a task, you have to look at the diversity of organisms out there and then get inspired by principles.”


  • Biomimicry can be defined as innovation through emulation of biological forms, processes, patterns, and systems.7 The idea is that natural selection promotes highly adapted and differentiated survival strategies to meet technical challenges.

    In engineering, biomimicry involves the study of biological systems in order to get information from nature to solve engineering problems or to be used for applications in engineering. Biomimicry as a concept is defined by industry leader Sue L. T. McGregor as “the juncture where ecology meets agriculture, medicine, manufacturing materials science, energy, computing and commerce”9


  • History of Biomimicry

  • History of Biomimicry People have always been inspired by nature to solve everyday problems. The study of birds to allow human flight is an early example of biomimicry. The Wright Brothers, who in 1903 managed to fly the first aircraft, drew inspiration from their observations of pigeons.13

    The term biomimetics was chosen by Otto Schmitt, an American Academic and Inventor, to describe the transfer of biological ideas to technology. The term biomimetics entered the Websters dictionary in 1974 and is defined as "the study of the formation, structure, or function of biologically produced substances and materials (such as enzymes or silk) and biological mechanisms and processes (such as protein synthesis or photosynthesis) especially for the purpose of synthesizing similar products by artificial mechanisms which mimic natural ones".14

    The term bionics, in 1960, was coined by the psychiatrist and engineer Jack Steele15 as "a science concerned with the application of data about the functioning of biological systems to the solution of engineering problems".

    The term began to take on a different meaning following the 1974 TV series The Six Million Dollar Man and its spin offs, becoming associated with 'the use of electronically-operated artificial body parts' and 'having ordinary human powers increased by the aid of such devices.16 Because the term bionic took on the implication of super natural strength, the scientific community in English speaking countries shied away from using it in subsequent years.

    The term biomimicry first appeared in 198217 and was popularised in the 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, by scientist and writer Janine Benyus who defines the word as "new science that studies nature's models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems". Benyus suggests looking to Nature as a "Model, Measure, and Mentor" and emphasizes sustainability as an objective of biomimicry.

    For example, researchers studied the termite's ability to maintain a virtually constant temperature and humidity in their mounds in Africa, regardless of outside temp


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