The Ray of Hope Prize celebrates and accelerates nature-inspired solutions addressing the world's environmental and sustainability challenges.

Created in honor of Ray C. Anderson, a business and sustainability leader, this $100,000 prize sparks the next generation of businesses that will lead us to a circular and regenerative future.

Meet the Ray of Hope Prize Winners

At the end of each competition cycle, one team is awarded the $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize®. This prize recognizes the top nature-inspired startup that embodies the design principles of biomimicry and Ray’s legacy of sustainable success.

2019 Winners Watchtower

Boston, Massachusetts

Watchtower uses a next-generation, flexible robot to inspect water pipes, locating leaks for utilities to easily fix. The strategy is to build a robot that is like a squid or gecko; it leaves behind a piece at every leak it finds in an underground water pipe. This piece has a beacon effect that allows maintenance crews to locate it with wireless scanners from above ground, pinpoint the location of the leaks, and know where to dig and fix them.

2019 Second Place Winners Aruga Technologies

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Aruga has developed a platform technology that uses a self-cleaning mechanism found throughout nature: dynamic wrinkling. Their first product is a vascular implant that doubles traditional implant lifetime by keeping blood clot buildup from depositing on the blood contacting surface. They are exploring how their technology may be applied across industrial surfaces that frequently experience fouling, such as marine and water infrastructure.

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2018 Winners Nucleário

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Inspired by winged seeds, bromeliads, and forest leaf litter, Nucleário offers a smarter, cheaper, and faster approach for large-scale forest restoration by providing innovative products proven to reduce seedling maintenance. The Nucleário Planting System eliminates the need for irrigation, herbicides, and pesticides.

2018 Second Place Winners BioThermosmart

Mexico City, Mexico

The BioThermosmart team applied lessons from animals’ circulatory systems to develop a heating, ventilation, and cooling system for buildings that harvests waste heat and cycles it back into the system, reducing costs, fossil fuel emissions, and energy.

2017 Winners NexLoop

Croatia, United States, Germany

NexLoop designs biomimetic products and systems to collect and integrate in situ atmospheric water sources into sustainable and affordable urban food production. The design is a modular, scalable building envelope system for food production applications, such as greenhouses, indoor vertical farms, and container farms. The system combines multiple functions from champion species like spiders, ice plants, and mycorrhizal fungi, to capture, filter, store, and distribution water for food growing.

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2016 Winners LifePatch

Quillota, Chile

A team from the Ceres Regional Center for Fruit and Vegetable Innovation in Chile designed a new way of protecting growing seedlings that emulates the way hardy “nurse” plants establish themselves in degraded soils and pave the way for new plant species to grow. The LifePatch returns vitality to the soil by improving conditions for seedlings and exposing them to a mix of nutrients, is fabricated with natural fibers, and biodegrades after one season. With 25% of the world’s soils degraded, this startup innovation provides a way to grow and protect new plants and ensure that the soil can be regenerated to feed our growing population.

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Why Apply?

Do you have a product, service, or technology that helps create a sustainable, resilient future? The Ray of Hope Prize® competition can bring your startup to the next level.

Competitors are eligible to receive the $100,000 prize, along with media exposure to major press outlets (past Ray of Hope Prize winners from the Launchpad have had their stories shared on CBS, the BBC, and PBS.)  Benefits include pitch training, product refinement, and storytelling enhancement. Participants also gain access to a growing community of biomimicry designers and entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and potential investors.

The Ray of Hope Prize application process is now closed, but we encourage you to join our newsletter list to stay up to date on the innovations emerging from this year’s competition and how to apply for next year’s cycle.

Judges Panel

The Ray of Hope Prize judging panel includes trusted experts in the field of biomimicry, industry, and entrepreneurship, whose input will help us select the recipient of the Ray of Hope Prize.

Janine Benyus

Janine Benyus

Founder, Biomimicry Institute and Biomimicry 3.8

Miguel Granier

Miguel Granier

Founder/Director, Invested Development

Chris Hagler

Chris Hagler

EY Americas Climate Change and Sustainability Services Managing Director

Joe Pugar

Joe Pugar

Co-Founder and CEO, Aruga Technologies

Deron Davis

Deron Davis

Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy in Georgia

John Lanier

John Lanier

Executive Director, Ray C. Anderson Foundation

Selection Committee

The Ray of Hope Prize Selection Committee consists of entrepreneurs, biomimicry leaders, and experts in fields such as green chemistry and materials. Their input will guide us in selecting the ten finalists competing for the Ray of Hope Prize.

Jim Bunch

Jim Bunch

Managing Director, Goldman Sachs

Dawn Danby

Dawn Danby

Co-Founder, Spherical

Calvin Schmidt

Calvin Schmidt

Business Development Associate, SynBioBeta

Claire Janisch

Claire Janisch

Biomimicry South Africa

Erin Rovalo

Erin Rovalo

PhD Candidate at Loughborough University

Kamal El-Wattar

Kamal El-Wattar

CEO, Sequoia Laboratories

Mareese Keane

Mareese Keane

Consultant, Opengate Partners

Marilyn Waite

Marilyn Waite

Program Officer, Climate & Clean Energy Finance, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation

Angela Nihikian

Angela Nihikian

Former Director, Global Sustainability, Steelcase

Kent Snyder

Kent Snyder

Attorney and Consultant

Alex Kopelyan

Alex Kopelyan

Program Director & Partner, IndieBio

Mark Dorfman

Mark Dorfman

Biomimicry Chemist, B 3.8

Hannah Davis

Hannah Davis

Program Director, Techstars Sustainability

Jeanette Lim

Jeanette Lim

Science Writer

Kevin Bayuk

Kevin Bayuk

Senior Fellow, Financial Modeling, Drawdown

Jeremy Faludi

Jeremy Faludi

Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Engineering, TU Delft

Ray of Hope Prize Details

The Ray of Hope Prize competition provides select biomimicry startups the opportunity to participate in high-level pitch and biomimicry training, showcase their work to industry leaders, and compete for a $100,000 equity-free prize.

Participants will receive:

Access to a community of biomimicry designers & entrepreneurs

Direct contact with industry leaders

Access to potential investors

Biomimicry training to refine product and enhance storytelling

Who Should Apply?

Any startup with a nature-inspired product, service, or technology with inherent social or environmental benefits may apply. We are particularly interested in solutions that address carbon sequestration, climate change adaptation or mitigation, critical sustainability challenges, or any of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

To be most competitive for the prize, we recommend that you have already developed your solution past the idea stage and are able to demonstrate some sort of user adoption. If you have more than $1 million in annual revenue, or have raised more than $1 million, get in touch with us. We may have other opportunities to help support your startup.

Timeline

Recruitment & Selection – September 2019 – February 2020

Application Deadline – December 31, 2019

Shortlisted Teams Interviewed – February – March 2020

Finalist Teams Selected – March 2020

Biomimicry, Startup, and Pitch Training (Virtual) – April 13 – May 29, 2020

Pitch Event (Virtual) – June 2020

Ray of Hope Prize Announcement – June 2020

Questions?

Please reach out to rayofhopeprize(at)biomimicry.org with any questions.

Read the official rules here.

At Watchtower, we care about saving water, and with the $100,000 Ray of Hope prize, we will commercialize our production to make a serious impact around the globe.

Tyler Mantel

Watchtower Robotics

One day, flying high, I saw a really big area with no forest, just grass. I realized that we need to make an innovation to solve this problem.

Bruno Rutman Pagnoncelli

Nucleário

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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.

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