Solutions Designed by Nature That Business Needs

29 06 2007

Once again here is another lesson from the intersection of professions and industries.

If you ever have the chance to listen or read from Janine Benyus you will understand why it might be a good idea to include more biologists among your product design or R&D team in the industry your association represents. Here’s why…

Nature has been in the R&D business for 3.8 billion years and in that time has accumulated close to 30 million “well adjusted” solutions to a plethora of design challenges that Man struggles to address with mixed results.

According to Benyus, industrial design should focus on two core questions that could unlock tremendous new business opportunities to drive sustainable business and societal growth.

How does Life make things?

How does Life make things disappear into systems?

Benyus is a natural sciences writer, innovation consultant, an author of six books, including her latest – Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, and president of The Biomimicry Institute. Biomimicry is an emerging discipline that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s designs and processes.

What Business Can Learn from Bioscience

Benyus believes business has some great opportunities to learn how Nature has designed elegant solutions for some tough man-made problems. Unfortunately, business interest has been slow except among a few innovative thinkers. Here is a sample from Nature’s database of best practices.

  1. Self-Assembly – Systems that can harness light from the sun or optical lens that can be created at room temperature
  2. CO2 as Feedstock – Pollution becomes food for other systems
  3. Solar Transformation – Fuel cells that are more efficient
  4. Power of Shape – Bumps placed on a jet fuselage like those on a whale’s fins can improve fuel efficiency by 32%
  5. Color without Pigments – Create colors and make them change simply by changing shape
  6. Clean without Detergents – Self-cleaning systems
  7. Quench Thirst – Pulling water from fog or humid air where surface water doesn’t exist
  8. Metals without Mining – Extracting metal from waste water
  9. Green Chemistry – Using only what nature created to design and build
  10. Timed Degradation – The ability to self-compost
  11. Resilience and Healing – Dry vaccines that need no refrigeration

Some of these ideas might suggest that some products we have come to know should no longer be made. But then if those companies innovated to create completely new classes of products made from Nature’s design it wouldn’t matter would it?

Once again, the power of design in systems and products shows its potential.

If you would like to see her presentation that runs 23 minutes, click on the image below.

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