Have you heard of Biomimicry? No?, well read on then..
Even I hadn’t heard this term till recently..
Biomimicry seemed a very interesting concept and it promised to be an exceptionally interesting presentation as the host described it as ‘business learnings from nature’..So off I went on a cold and rainy evening to the NYU law university (which by the way is a very beautiful building in a equally beautiful campus).
So what exactly is biomimicry– according to the most popular definition, in it’s simplest definition:
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.
The above definition references the most common example of biomimicry- Photosynthesis; the science of producing using CO2 and solar energy (both readily available).
A company named Novomer decided to learn (mimic) from this working model of photosynthesis and is trying to use carbon dioxide and other renewable materials to cost-effectively produce polymers, plastics and other chemicals for a wide variety of industrial markets.
The presentator (a consultant from Biomimicry Guild) explained that this concept is different from Bioassistance which basically use plants or living organisms to create a better product. An example being beer that has bacterial fermentation happen or treating waste water with micro-organisms that break down the bad stuff in waste water and basically treat it.
Some of the more interesting examples he spoke about where:
1. Learning from a certain butterfly species (morpho butterfly) that shimmer in sunlight..based on that a Japanese paint company decided not to add toxic coloring pigments to their paints but instead to create paints that gave color based on interaction with natural light.
2. the resurrection plant found in Africa has tissues that can be dried to a crisp and then revived without damaged courtesy of a sugary substance produced in its cells during drought. A Cambridge based biotech company decided to develop fridge-free vaccines based on the plantís remarkable sugars called trehaloses. The product involves spraying a vaccine with the trehalose coating to form inert spheres or sugary beads that can be packaged in an injectable form and can sit in a doctor's bag for months of years.
The development, based on mimicking nature, could lead to savings of up to $300 million a year in the developing world while cutting the need for kerosene and photovoltaic fueled fridges not to mention providing much needed vaccines to Africa’s needy despite their unfriendly climate.
I think a good book (which I need to read myself) on this subject would be: Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature by Janine M. Benyus..so, read, get inspired and involved.