Leonardo Da Vinci observed birds and copied their forms to design wings for his flying machines. As far as we know, these wings did not get Da Vinci airborne. But the engineers, thinkers, and inventors following in his path certainly gained from the inspiration nature offers. Enter biomimicry.
Biomimicry is the science that studies nature as a source of inspiration for the design of innovative and sustainable solutions to solve problems. The main idea is that nature is millions of years ahead of humans and can offer a lot of inspiration for breakthrough innovation. 99.9% of the organisms that once lived on our planet are now extinct. Take that as an example for a viability test.
There are many well-known examples of biomimicry. The Japanese Shinkansen high-speed train imitates the head of a kingfisher, a bird famous for piercing water without causing much splashing. In the 2008 Olympics, swimmers wearing full-coverage swimsuits modeled after sharkskin won 98% of the medals. George De Mestra developed Velcro when he researched why burrs stuck so hard in his dog’s coat after a walk.
Janine Benyus, who coined the term biomimicry, is convinced that learning from nature will only gain importance in the future. For big corporations as well as for smaller companies. Before companies make any design decisions, they’ll ask: “How would nature solve this problem?”. Not only new products can be modelled after nature. Also services and processes have an advantage by taking a peek into nature.
Inspiration from nature
Curious how your company can find inspiration in nature? The website https://asknature.org lets innovators find answers to their questions. Visitors can browse the world’s largest online library of resources on natural phenomena and bio-inspired applications. Of course, other companies can also be a rich source of inspiration, as we already mentioned in innovation fact 4 – learn to steal. You’ll find inspiration everywhere: make the most of it!