Biomimicry Basics: How To Innovate Using Nature's Strategies

If you take this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe what biomimicry is and how it relates to other forms of bio-inspired design
  • Use the Biomimicry for Design methodology (the Biomimicry Design Spiral) for technical and non- technical design challenges
  • Articulate why biomimicry is valuable for your organization
  • Integrate biomimicry into your design process or innovation pathway

Instructor: Denise DeLuca, PE

The Nature Inspired Design Handbook

In the Nature Inspired Design project, we learned from ten Dutch companies at the forefront of Biomimicry, cradle to cradle and design for the circular economy – which we shall from now on jointly call “Nature Inspired Design”. How to translate inspiring design principles into tangible results – and not just into a conceptual product with no actual follow-through? Which disciplines do you need and how can they work together? In short: how can you widen the scope without losing the plot?

We researched what works for our pioneering companies, and boiled down their best practices into one comprehensive method with carefully selected tools for designers, available to you in the form of this book.

Products That Last - product design for circular business models

by C.A. Bakker (Author), M.C. den Hollander (Author), E. van Hinte (Author), Y. Zijlstra (Author)

PRODUCTS THAT LAST - product design for circular business models- starts where most books on product development end. From the perspective of designers and entrepreneurs once a product has been designed, produced and sold, it disappears beyond the newness horizon. Little are they aware of the opportunities that exist in the next product universe, where money is made from products in use, as well as from a product's afterlife. These opportunities clearly exist, otherwise they would not be providing an income for so many people. However, to be recognised as segments of a circle of continuous value creation, they need reframing.

PRODUCTS THAT LAST offers readers an innovative and practical methodology to unravel a product's 'afterlife' and systematically scrutinise it for new opportunities. It introduces us to business models that benefit from the opportunities offered by a much longer product life.

Automating Design and Discovery: from bio-inspired robotics to biomimetic discovery

The INCOSE Nature Systems Working Group hosted a webinar on September 26/2014 by Hod Lipson on adaptive robotic systems that can handle unstructured or unforeseen circumstances without the control functions being 'designed in'.  Rather than emulating specific outcomes of evolution, Lipson's team is emulating evolution itself, starting with a collection of components, allowing connections to form and then combining/mutating/selecting the ones that perform the best.  The first attempts involved computer modeling and simulation, including various forms of 'soft robots' that evolved the ability to move.  Other projects involved physical robots where the controllers were able to evolve with the goal of robots that could jump, run and gallop. 

2014 INCOSE Workshop

This event organized by the Natural Systems Working Group was held in Los Angeles on January 25-26.  The website has pointers to many of the presentations given at the workshop.  The first two by George Studor and Larry Pohlmann give an overview of the synergy between Systems Engineering and Natural Systems.  Studor's presentation includes a list of universities that are in some way involved in bio-inspired design. 

Thanks to Curt McNamara for the pointer!

GrAB - Growing As Building

GrAB - Growing As Building  takes growth patterns and dynamics from nature and applies them to architecture with the goal of creating a new living architecture. The aim of the project GrAB is to develop architectural concepts for growing structures. Three main directions will be investigated: transfer of abstracted growth principles from nature to architecture, integration of biology into material systems and intervention of biological organisms and concepts with existing architecture. Key issues of investigation will be mechanisms of genetically-controlled and environmentally-informed, self-organised growth in organisms and the differentiation of tissues and materials.

Biologically Inspired Design: Computational Methods and Tools

Goel, A. K., McAdams, D. A., & Stone, R. B. (2013). Biologically Inspired Design: Computational Methods and Tools. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.

About this Book:

  • Outlines the state of the art in bioinspired design methods and the outstanding research questions in the field thus clarifying what can be done, what can be done, and what needs to be done
  • Contains contributions by a diverse set of leaders in the field that provide existing methods to conduct bio-inspired design
  • Provides detailed, specific, and formal methods for how to use nature as inspiration for engineering design thus enabling the design practitioner to apply such methods to their design problems
  • Includes chapter relevant URLs, examples and a range of figures an diagrams to illustrate and explain methods and their design and research applications

Bio-ID4S: Biomimicry in Industrial Design for Sustainability: An Integrated Teaching-and-Learning Method (Carlos Alberto Montana Hoyos)


Our design, production and consumption patterns must be redefined to address the new challenges faced by our society. Problems generated by traditional "industrial production" cannot be solved with the same "industrial" thinking paradigms. Eco-Design (Design for the Environment, DfE) has been widely developed and is currently taught and used in many design fields. However, DfE has recently evolved to Design for Sustainability (DfS, D4S) which not only considers environmental, but also social and economic aspects. This book discusses the use of Biomimicry as a tool for D4S.

Sharkskin inspires novel solutions to prevent HAIs

Colin Mangham wrote an article for Medical Design on an innovation by Sharklet Technologies on emulating the microstructure of shark skin to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).  After an overview of biomimicry, it describes the research of Dr. Brennan to understand how relatively slow-moving sharks avoid skin fouling by algae and barnacles.  Brennan emulated the dermal denticles of shark skin in polymers and was able to demonstrate a reduction in fouling by algae, barnacles and human pathogens.  The structural features reduce bacterial colonization without killing the bacteria, reducing the likelihood that the bacteria would develop resistance (see article on BioSignal in the March 2007 Newsletter)

Biomimicry Student Design Challenge: Round 1 Winners

Round 1 Winners

First Prize
Nature-inspired Removal of Air-Entrained Water, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, CA

Second Prize
Time Capsule, Artesis University College Antwerp, Antwerp, Antwerp, BE

Third Prize
Fog-farming Dynamic System, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Providencia, Santiago, CL

Autodesk Sustainability Award
CHAAC HA’, Water System Collector, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mérida, Yucatán, MX

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