Editor's note: Larry Stambaugh will be presenting at GreenBiz Forum San Francisco (Feb. 26-28).
San Diego Zoo Global is the first zoo to establish a center focused on applying bio-inspired solutions to industry challenges through biomimicry. The zoo's Centre for Bioinspiration was born five years ago.
Larry Stambaugh, the center's managing director, came on board in August 2012. He chose to shift gears and come to the organization after a 40-year career as a serial CEO because he saw a need to establish a technology transfer and incubator model that would advance nature-inspired ideas in biomimicry. The center plans to openly share the model with other zoos, botanical gardens, aquariums and natural history museums — all places that are great sources of nature-inspired solutions.
GreenBiz editor and reporter Kristine Wong recently spoke with Stambaugh to learn more about the center and its emerging work with business.
Kristine Wong: How did the center get its start?
Larry Stambaugh: The Centre for Bioinspiration has been building for the last five years. It started with the CFO of San Diego Zoo Global, Paula Brock, who recognized biomimicry’s potential to be a source of innovation to business. San Diego Zoo Global operates the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park and Institute for Conservation Research. As the steward of the world’s largest and most diverse living collection of plants and animals, we are a natural place to try to bring bio-inspired ideas to life.
Over the last five years it’s evolved from education efforts, including a leading bioinspiration conference and ideation workshops with companies. Last August we formalized the name of our effort to the Centre for Bioinspiration. We’re focused on technology transfer and filling the gap between identifying ideas inspired by biology and getting them out in the marketplace.
The San Diego Zoo is extraordinarily positioned to do this because we have a nearly 100-year history of species knowledge and leadership, a significant conservation research organization and global collaboration relationships that we can leverage towards these challenges.
Photo of Morpho butterfly (a source of inspiration translated to technology) courtesy Didier Descouens (Museum of Toulouse) via Wikimedia Commons
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