What we learned from the Joint Global Conference on Biomimicry and Bio Inspiration 2016

Last month (in November), the Joint Global Biomimicry and Bio Inspired Innovation Conference (aka GBC2016) took place in Utrecht, Netherlands. It is the first time this event is organized in Europe. The event gathered people from all over the world for 2 fantastic days of knowledge sharing and networking. If you want to get a brief impression of how it was, take a look at this 3 min video.

There were a number of plenary sessions and break-out sessions featuring great speakers amongst which renowned names like Jay Harman, Dayna Baumeister and Michael Pawlyn.


Jay Harman from Pax Scientific had a very inspiring talk, addressing both his findings during his career and his challenges and lessons growing a business on biomimicry. You can watch his talk on Biomimicry Entrepreneurship here.

Jay is also the author of the Shark’s Paintbrush, an excellent read if you’re looking for an introduction to what biomimicry is an can do.


Perhaps the most surprising talk came from Matthijs Bierman, director of Triodos Bank who was also one of the sponsors of the event. It is very inspiring to hear a bank diector talking about how profit doesn’t need to be at the expense of world’s most pressing environmental problems. Triodos Bank finances projects related to sustainability and nature conservation, and started this year to look at biomimicry as a source of inspiration to improve their banking practices and strategies.


Using biomimicry in investing is not exactly a new thing, this is something that Katherine Collins from Honeybee Capital has been doing for some years. You can watch her talk here.

Katherine is also the author of the book The Nature of Investing.


Geanne Van Arkel from Interface had a very nice talk too, hopefully this will be published soon. Interface is known for pioneering implementation of biomimicry and circular economy principles at the business scale. The most important thing when climbing the mount of sustainability, Geanne said, is to have a great ambition. Exactly what happened with Interface.


Dayna Baumeister, co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute both touched upon inspiring organisms, how amazing nature is and the consulting experience of Biomimicry 3.8. Her talk on Groundtruthing Biomimicry is available here.


Christian Hamm gave a more technical talk on lightweight product development process. Christian is Head of Department Bionic Lightweight Optimization and Functional Morphology at the Alfred Wegener Institute / Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research. You can watch his very interesting talk here.


The conference ended with a fantastic talk by Michael Pawlyn on biomimicry and architecture. Michael who founded Exploration Architecture has many interesting project that he presented in his talk.

He also had a signing session for his new book: Biomimicry in Architecture, Second Edition.

Hopefully more videos will come out of the various talks and we will share them if they do. Alternatively you can also check out BiomimicryNL on Youtube, where these will be published.


Some trendy topics at the conference

Biomimicry education: We were very pleased to see a trend of increased offerings for biomimicry courses/curricula in education. Besides the ones mentioned in earlier articles on Blogionik we were impressed by the progress of offerings in the Netherlands alone with at least 5 different offerings created or in the making (Utrecht University, TU Delft, Avans Høgeschool in Breda, Aeres University Wageningen, The Hague University of Applied Science). Other initiatives are blooming in Europe with the CEEBIOS in France, and the University of Madrid.

Mushrooms and mycelium were mentioned several times during the conference: Han Wösten, professor in Microbiology at the University of Utrecht, is doing research on using mycelium in the textile industry. Pauline Krijgsheld also from University of Utrecht presented new biomaterials made of fungal mycelium and Caroline Zaoui presented what Novobiom is doing in the area of mycoremediation (depolluting soil).

All in all this was great gathering, a fantastic opportunity to learn and network. Many members of the European Biomimicry Alliance were present as well as networks from other continents like Biomimicry South Africa and the Biomimicry Institute. Special thanks goes to BiomimicryNL for pulling off this great event!


Michel Wolfstirn

Innovation inspired by Nature

Join our immersion workshop Innovate With Nature on the island of Runde 24-28 April 2017

cover photo: AK Photography

Michel Wolfstirn

Hi! My name is Michel. Originally from France I have been living in Norway since 2006. The amazing nature in this beautiful country made me stay here and call it home. I am very fond of outdoors activities like climbing, skiing, paddling and hiking. Norway provides me with many opportunities to do these in fantastic sceneries. I started my career as a mechanical engineer in the oil industry. I learned about biomimicry thanks to a TED talk and decided that I wanted to do something with it. I saw in it a good opportunity to balance my karma after many years of work with an oil company ;) This lead me to take some online courses in biomimicry with the Biomimicry Institute / ASU. While doing that I got inspired to start BiomimicryNorway as I noticed that there was no local network in my country and the topic was very little known. Together with my friend Nina Havermans we co-founded this organization and have since 2015 run a number of initiatives. We have done many workshops on biomimicry and the circular economy, we have set up an exhibition on the topic at the Natural History Museum of Oslo and are visiting lecturers at a university near Oslo. We’re hoping to get more work done with the industry so that we can live from our activities while contributing to paving the way for a sustainable future.

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