What's Biomimcry?

What's Biomimcry?

What is "biomimicry" and what can it do for my business?

Biomimicry is the title of an inspiring book by science writer Janine Benyus, and the seed of the Biomimcry Guild, which is further developing the tools and cataloging the evolving body of practice.

I've long maintained that Earth's living systems have nearly four billion years' experience in developing efficient, adaptive, resilient, sustainable systems. Why reinvent the wheel, I wonder, when the R & D has already been done?

As I wrote in a 1997 review, Biomimicry explores the quietly gathering trend toward what Benyus calls "doing it nature's way," -- using nature as model, or inspiration, for design to solve human problems; as measure of what works, what's appropriate, and what lasts; and as mentor, focusing us on what we can learn from nature, rather than extract from it. Biomimicry, Benyus suggests, "has the potential to change the way we grow food, make materials, harness energy, heal ourselves, store information, and conduct business."

Benyus spoke recently at NASA's Ames Research Center, presented a breathtaking array of biomimcked products from businesses and universities around the world:
Adhesives inspired by geckos toes, self-cleaning paint by lotus leaves, super-efficient propellers and impellers inspired by

The idea's not new -- humans have been learning from nature for just about forever -- but the systematization may be., taking the form of both the book itself, and the pilot Biomimicry Guild Database. Our friends at WorldChanging described it as a "'growing, open source, peer reviewed' resource that would link biomimicry concepts to known problems . . . along with ready information on who in the public or private sectors is already working on a product or application. It would be a clearinghouse for new scientific discoveries, available for multiple industries to use, promoting more biomimetic successes by making research easily available across disciplines."

How can you apply this approach in your business? Read the book, use the database, open your mind and eyes to the wonders of nature… and take the time to look deeply and patiently at the design inspiration that's all around you.

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Gil Friend, systems ecologist and business strategist, is president and CEO of Natural Logic, Inc. -- offering advisory services and tools that help companies and communities prosper by embedding the laws of nature at the heart of enterprise. Sign up online to receive his monthly column via email. Read Gil's blog here.