Biomimicry Institute Announces New Theme for 2020 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

Looking for nature-inspired design solutions to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals.

SAN FRANCISCO — 8 January 2020 — The Biomimicry Institute is thrilled to announce that registration for the 2020 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge opens today and is calling for solutions focused on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Challenge is an annual, team competition that addresses critical issues in energy, transportation, agriculture, buildings, and beyond with nature-inspired solutions.

The Institute’s Biomimicry Global Design Challenge is open to anyone over 18 that is new to nature-inspired design. For younger innovators, the Institute has a Youth Design Challenge. In both cases, the entries are judged on how deeply the teams understood the inspiring biological form, process, or system.

In 2019, a finalist team found inspiration from manta rays and basking sharks to create the Floating Coconet, a system for capturing plastic in rivers before they enter the ocean. “The Biomimicry Global Design Challenge is an amazing opportunity to learn about biomimicry and the practice of creating ideas inspired by nature for the design table,” said team member Sjors van der Meer. “It was fun to collaborate with a team and work together to solve a challenge. To feel like we’re making a difference and creating solutions that can make a positive impact on the planet is truly an enriching experience.”

Over the last few years winning teams have taken on novel concepts, from a room-cooling design that mimics the way leaf-cutter ant mounds regulate temperature to filtering open sewer canals inspired by a camel’s stomach. Groups have created solutions for food preservation and urban food production, unique types of energy production, and capturing plastic waste before it reaches the ocean. The 2019 winner was Bryosoil, a team from Bogotá that took inspiration from the páramo—a local ecosystem known as the “water factory”—to design a city-scale water management system.

The SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals created to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, peace and justice. Together they represent a shared vision that people around the world are using to work toward solutions, and biomimicry will play a vital role in innovation.

“Environmental issues shape social issues and vice-versa,” said Biomimicry Institute Executive Director, Beth Rattner. “And both are escalating faster than normal trial-and-error problem solving can meet. It is time we pause the traditional design and engineering process and look to nature for adaptation strategies. What better place to start than on issues as fundamental as hunger, clean water, or threats to marine life?”

In 2020, participants will now be given access to a free, 8-week syllabus that helps guide them through the biomimicry design process. Also new for 2020, the tagline Design° for People + Planet, asks participants to look at the rising temperature of the planet and ask themselves what degree of change they will make for a particular SDG using nature as their mentor, model and measurement of sustainability.

Finalists selected by an independent, expert jury are eligible to join the Biomimicry Launchpad program, where they turn their ideas into seed-stage companies. Entries are evaluated on six criteria: Biomimicry Process, Context and Relevance, Social and Environmental Benefits, Creativity, Communication and Presentation, and Teamwork.

To learn more about the Challenge details and sign up to join the next generation of problem-solvers, visit



The Biomimicry Institute is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 2006 that empowers people to seek nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet. To advance the solution process, the Institute offers, a free online tool that contains strategies found in nature and examples of ways they are used in design. It also hosts a Biomimicry Global Design Challenge and Youth Design Challenge to support project-based education, a Launchpad for entrepreneurship to bring designs to market, and connects innovators through the Global Biomimicry Network.

We will use the information you to be in touch with you via email. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any message you receive from us. Learn more about our privacy practices here.

We believe that the widespread adoption of nature-inspired solutions will catalyze a new era in design and business that benefits both people and the planet. Let’s make the act of asking nature’s advice a normal part of everyday inventing. We hope you will join us.

Tap into nature anywhere:

We use cookies to give you the best browsing experience. Find out more about our cookie policy here.