Biomimicry: ask nature

In this post I briefly (somewhere around point 8) talked about Biomimicry (getting inspired for new technologies, products,… by nature). Today I’ll zoom in on this a little more. If you don’t want to read the entire post, just scroll down and watch the TED-talk on Biomimicry.


Basically Biomimicry is asking yourself: How would nature do this? The core idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are facing: energy, food production, climate control, non-toxic chemistry, transportation, packaging, and a whole lot more.

This led to a design-method where you try to translate these solutions in a system, product, … .


However interesting this is, why should people bother?

Most (if not all) ecological challenges we are facing today, we are facing because of our incapability of thinking in cycles and closed systems. In nature everything is connected, waste is food for a next (or even the same) system. If this kind of thinking already exists (and proved its value), it would be a waste of time and money to ignore it.

By copying nature you could find ways to solve problems easily and keep it all sustainable (if you’re able to see the entire picture of what you’re doing that is)! Right now, biomimicry is used for product innovation mostly. In an entrepreneurial environment, you could also ask yourself: how can we make a proces or organisation inspired by nature?

As far as coppying entire ecosystems is concerned, I would like to refer to a Stuart McMillen comic on Type III Ecosystems.


So, how do you copy nature?

First of all you’ll have to know how nature works. Sometimes looking around is enough to do this, but when you would like to know how to create heat, the vibration of a honeybee might not be the first thing that pops to mind.

This is where AskNature comes in handy. This site is an Open Source platform where experts post how nature solves problems. The main idea as they put it themselves:

Imagine 3.8 billion years of design brilliance available for free, at the moment of creation, to any sustainability innovator in the world.

Imagine nature’s most elegant ideas organized by design and engineering function, so you can enter “filter salt from water” and see how mangroves, penguins, and shorebirds desalinate without fossil fuels.

Now imagine you can meet the people who have studied these organisms, and together you can create the next great bio-inspired solution.

Embedded below is a TED-talk by Janine Benyus on 12 design ideas from nature. Feel free to check out AskNature here.


While writing this post I searched on Asknature on leadership and came across a book called “All I Need to Know about Business I Learned from a Duck”. I haven’t yet read it, so I’m not going to recommend it just yet, but a book with a title like this simply begs to be read.

this post is a reworked version from this post on my previous blog.


About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.

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