Enabling a regenerative future through
nature-inspired solutions.

Join the next cohort of accelerated startups!


We accelerate the growth of nature-inspired startups to scale systemic solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

Every year, we support a cohort of ten high-impact nature-inspired startups, spanning from Pre-seed to Series A stages and representing various sectors and regions. Each selected startup receives $15,000 in non-dilutive funding and over $50,000 worth of in-kind services. This incudes tailored coaching, investor introductions, a 4-day Nature Retreat, and comprehensive training materials covering topics such as Impact and Sustainability Business Training, Innovation Storytelling & Amplification, DEI, and Founder Mental Health.

We’re not your typical accelerator. We prioritize your growth as an individual, startup founder, and visionary leader, we emphasize relationship-building and foster a vibrant community of innovative startups inspired by nature to drive positive impact. With a proven track record of over 40 thriving companies in our portfolio, we’re ready to support your entrepreneurial journey.


Six-Month Accelerator

  • A unique program designed for nature-inspired Pre-seed, Seed and Series A startups,
  • $15,000 non-dilutive capital and $50,000 of in-kind services,
  • Remote programming: 1h live session per week, and ~3h additional committment per week
  • An inspiring and committed alumni community and a dedicated Ray of Hope Accelerator team.


Impact & Sustainability Business Training

  • Live Expert Sessions and workshops on topics such as: green chemistry, supply chain sustainability, life-cycle analysis, impact reporting, etc.,
  • Curriculum tailored to serve your purposes.

NY Climate Week & Nature Retreat

One week together in-person (9/26 – 10/2) to get to know each other! Including:

  • A meeting at NY Climate Week to connect with the nature-inspired startup ecosystem, followed by:
  • A 4-day Nature Retreat to reconnect with yourself, your mission, and the natural world, and to build a community of trusted peers to support each other through the program and your entrepreneurial journey.

Innovation Storytelling & Amplification

  • Enhance your science and innovation storytelling skills to amplify your story,
  • Increase your visibility and reach via science communication support and content creation.
  • Explore our award-winning animation series featuring our portfolio startups, here.

Vibrant Ecosystem

  • An unparalleled network of nature-inspired enthusiasts, mentors, investors, corporates, and entrepreneurs,
  • Personalized mentorship to meet your needs,
  • Matchmaking and monthly meetings to learn from investors,
  • Gain access to potential corporate partners to scale and develop proof of concept or pilot projects.

Nature-Inspired Solutions Demo Day

  • Refine your pitch with 1:1 coaching sessions,
  • Concluding online Demo Day to pitch to investors, potential partners, customers and to network with key stakeholders.



Meet the team and learn more about the Ray of Hope Accelerator application process, program structure and benefits in this one hour video hosted by Sarah McInerney, PhD, and Maëlys Renaud.


We support visionary founders enabling a regenerative future through their nature-inspired solutions. Here’s a glimpse of the startups we’ve supported:


visionary startups, all in operation today


countries represented


founded by female-founders


invested in the portfolio since 2020

Investors in our Portfolio Include


At the Biomimicry Institute, we’re accelerating the growth of nature-inspired startups to scale systemic solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. To enter the program, you need to meet a certain number of requirements:

Nature-Inspired Solution & Technology

Nature-inspired solutions are a broad classification of innovation that encompasses a great number of technology categories. At our accelerator, a nature-inspired solution draws inspiration from the natural world, often adapting biological principles and properties, ecological relationships or other aspects of nature’s strategies to address humanity’s greatest environmental challenges.

Your Nature-Inspired Solutions may be…

  • Grounded in deep scientific research – like Retein
  • Evolved from an understanding of biological systems – like Mycocycle
  • Enabling bio-inspired solutions – like Fusion Bionic

Explore our portfolio of companies for more examples.

Historically, the nature-inspired startups we support fit within at least one of the following categories:

  1. Chemistry and Materials
  2. Built Environment
  3. Manufacturing and Advanced Robotics
  4. Renewable Energy
  5. Transportation and Mobility
  6. Food and Agriculture
  7. Conservation and Remediation
  8. Life Sciences and Medtech
  9. Biotechnology
  10. Consumer Products, Cosmetics, Textiles
  11. Water
  12. BlueTech
  13. ClimateTech
Development Stage

We support early-stage startups at the Pre-Seed, Seed and Series A stages. Most startups entering our program have a working prototype (i.e.: achieved a Technology Readiness Level of 4) and secured between $250,000 and $5M in funding (friends and family, grants, private investor, VC). There are exceptions, however, and we encourage you to apply as we will evaluate your fit within the program holistically.


As a global accelerator program, we welcome applicants from all over the world. 

Legal Entity

Your startup must be established with a legal entity before entering the accelerator program and receiving the allocated non-dilutive funding. Historically startups we have supported have two or more full time team members.

Participation & In-Person Events

At least one founder/executive team member must actively engage with the accelerator by participating in the program, submitting deliverables and attending the mandatory in-person week in New York (including a 4 day Nature Retreat), see the dates in the timeline above.


When our internal team and external Selection Committee members look at your application, they will be evaluating your entry on the following criteria:

Problem & Market Potential

Is the problem you are tackling worth solving? Is the potential market size large enough for sustained business growth, and aligned with the expectations of possible funding sources? What traction have you been able to gain with your solution?

Solution & Technology

Is the technology potentially disruptive? Does your solution demonstrate the potential for a sustainable competitive advantage (uniqueness, economically)?


Is your solution based upon or modeled after a strategy found in nature? Do you clearly communicate the science behind your inspiration and technology?

Environmental & Social Impact

What are the environmental and social implications of your solution? How does your startup make the world a better place? How does your company align with the UN SDGs?


Does your team have the key people, diversity, and core capabilities you need to get to the next key milestones?


Expert Ecosystem

Share your Expertise

As a global non-profit accelerator, we lean on our volunteer network of experts to provide the insights and knowledge necessary for our diverse portfolio of nature-inspired startups to scale. Discover our Expert Ecosystem here.

Corporates & Investors

Get Involved

Leverage your expertise and support incredible nature-inspired startups. Sign up here to get involved.

Invest in the Future

Our ecosystem partners engage with our program, for introductions to portfolio companies, or to learn about how they can acceleratre their innovation and R&D pipeline with cutting-edge nature-inspired solutions.

Sponsors & Supporters

Partner with Us

To learn how you can help bring nature-inspired solutions to life, contact us at [email protected].

Current Sponsors & Supporters

As a non-profit accelerator program, we exist thanks to the generous support of our founding partner, the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and additional funding partners and donors.

Support our Work

To learn how you or your organization can help us enable a nature-positive world, contact us at [email protected].


Building meaningful connections through unforgettable experiences in nature.


What happens during the Ray of Hope Accelerator program?

This 6-month program runs from September 2024 to February 2025. It is a remote program with the exception of one week of in-person gathering which includes a 4-day immersion in nature in the US (travel expenses and accommodation will be covered). Each week of remote programming will be focused on a specific topic and external experts will be invited to host a lecture, workshop, or a panel discussion. For more information, read the section “Take a closer look into the program” above.

What is expected of startups as part of the program?

We expect one executive team member to be actively engaged throughout the program to ensure consistency and effective relationship building. The one week in-person gathering is mandatory and requires a founder/executive team member and a second team member to participate. Each week of remote programming will include a 1 hour live session (usually hosted at 11am EST) with an estimated ~3 hours of additional commitment. This program is specifically designed to allow you to focus on running the day to day operations of your business, while layering in support where needed to help you scale more quickly and more sustainably.

How much does it cost to participate?

The program is free for all accepted startups. There is no fee to apply.

Do you take equity in the startups?

No, we provide $15,000* of non-dilutive capital for each startup accepted in the program.

*The $15,000 will be provided as a grant, and this amount may be subject to change at The Biomimicry Institute’s sole discretion.

Is there still a prize competition attached to the program?

No, in 2024 we have evolved to become an accelerator program and have transitioned away from the prize model. Read this blog to learn more about this evolution and click here to discover our previous prize winners dating back to 2016.

Does this accelerator program require exclusivity?

No, our program does not require exclusivity. You can participate in our program while in another program. You can work with other funds, corporates, and customers. We want you to succeed.

What happens at the end of the 6-month accelerator program?

You join our ecosystem as an alumni and have continued access to our network, resources, and additional benefits. As a portfolio startup, you’ll benefit from ongoing exposure to our extended network, with potential connections to corporate partners or investors. Moreover, you may have the chance to assist incoming startup cohorts, contributing to the growth of this peer community.

Do you support companies working on projects across all industries?

We support nature-inspired startups whose innovations have a positive impact in one of the thirteen verticals the accelerator focuses on (see “Nature-Inspired Solution & Technology“ in Eligibility Criteria section above).

What geographies are eligible?

As a global accelerator program, we welcome applicants from all over the world (see “Geography“ in Eligibility Criteriasection above).

Where can I find the application form?

If you would like to preview the application before completing it on YouNoodle and prepare it advance, use the PDF version here. If you have a technical question or difficulty using YouNoodle, please let us know ([email protected]).

When are applications due?

Applications are open March 11th, 2024 and close 11:59pm May 3rd, 2024 EST. Apply via YouNoodle.

Will my application materials be kept confidential?

The Ray of Hope Accelerator treats all application data with care and discretion. We share information about the semi-finalists with our Selection Committee members during the second phase of the selection process. Please do not disclose any proprietary information in your application, but share about your nature inspiration, technology and positive impact, understanding of your market, competitive advantage and differentiation.

How are startups selected?

Find answers to this question in the sections above: Timeline, Eligibility Criteria, Selection Criteria.

Do you provide feedback to applicants?

Given the high volume of applications received we do not provide feedback to applicant at the initial screening phase. Selection committee feedback may be provided to the selected semi-finalists when relevant.

Can a startup reapply?

If your company has made significant changes (e.g., new funding, new partners or deployments/pilots, technological or techno-economic breakthroughs or proof points, etc.) since you last applied, please apply again and make note of the changes.

What are the UN SDGs?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) are a set of 17 interconnected global objectives aimed at addressing various social, economic, and environmental challenges by 2030. We ask startups to select up to three SDGs that align to their nature-inspired solution. This informs the program content development and supports our portfolio categorization. Find out more about the UN SDGs here.

Sign up for the Biomimicry Institute Innovation newsletter to stay up to date about our portfolio and the latest nature-inspired innovations and news.

Support the Next Generation
of Nature-Inspired Innovators

By donating to the Biomimicry Institute, you help us empower more nature-inspired innovators. Together, we will build a strong and sustainable global community dedicated to eliminating the need for extractive industries and revitalizing degraded ecosystems.

Tap into nature: