In 2016, we looked across industries and knew one thing for certain: the world needed more nature-inspired solutions to correct for generations of extractive, polluting business practices. In collaboration with our visionary funding partners, The Ray C. Anderson Foundation, the Biomimicry Institute launched a $100,000 prize competition to catalyze nature-inspired design. Between 2016-2019 we awarded 4 Grand Prizes to top biomimicry design concepts, known as the Ray of Hope Prize. Through this time, we began to see that supporting design ideas was simply not enough. We needed to support those that were implementing upon these ideas, so we seized the opportunity to evolve this work and support the innovators bringing new products to market.

Between 2020-2023 we created a new program to support early-stage startups that are learning from nature. This was a 10-week program that culminated in one startup receiving the $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize. Yet, what we consistently heard from our alumni companies was that while the monetary award was nice, it was not the most significant piece of value that the program brought to them. Rather, it was the deep connection to like-minded entrepreneurs, award-winning animated science videos, and an uncompromising focus on environmental and sustainable business practices which caused this program to be unique. In fact, in 2022 our participants jointly asked us if we had to award 1 grand prize or if it could be split 10 ways, which made us start to dream of possibilities, and once again we are seizing the opportunity to evolve our program.

Biologists use the term evolutionary rate, which refers to the speed or pace at which genetic changes occur within a population, leading to the emergence of new traits or adaptations. After another four years, here we are again evolving to meet the changing needs of our participants and stakeholders, including our largest stakeholder Planet Earth.

As we began to plan for this growth from a Prize to an Accelerator, we realized that we are more closely aligning with how healthy ecosystems operate. For example, if one organism were to completely dominate all available niches within an ecosystem (drawing a parallel to one company receiving all of the resources), there would be dramatic consequences. There would be a significant reduction in biodiversity, leading to a loss of system level resilience against environmental changes and disturbances. This would cause an increased vulnerability to disease, unbalanced energy and nutrient cycles, and eventually an ecosystem collapse.

There is no singular answer to the climate and environmental challenges we face today. But, we know that to have a healthy and resilient ecosystem we need the entire system to work together. There cannot be one winner. The Ray of Hope Accelerator will support the technologies, industries, and people needed to help create a world that looks like and operates like a healthy and regenerative ecosystem. By learning from 3.8 billion years of evolution, we are confident that we can create a nature-positive world.

We are just beginning to embark on our future journey as an Accelerator program. We anticipate significant future growth and we will be rolling out more updates over the next year. We hope that you join us on this adventure!

For details on the accelerator and application, visit the Ray of Hope Accelerator info page here.



Support nature-inspired problem-solvers

Want to write for AskingNature?

Contact us at hello(at)!

Tap into nature: