Sometimes, the best solution to a problem is not a completely new one, but an old one. Whereas we humans have been around for 200.000 years, nature has been around for a couple of billion years, with which comes the relevant expertise.
This belief lies at the core of biomimicry, which tells us that when we go to the drawing board, we should first look for inspiration in the time-tested products in Nature’s catalogue, rather than start from scratch. Although still relatively new, biomimicry has already led to sustainable and innovative solutions: termite mounds have shown that we can get rid of air conditioning; neural structures have been paramount for developments in computer vision; sharks have inspired the next line of defence against bacterial infections by being resistant against various antibiotics.
According to Janine Benyus, who coined the term in 1997, there are three ways to perform biomimicry. Firstly, nature can inspire form or shape. Secondly, it can inspire processes, such as modelling the network of autonomous vehicles to the way in which ants communicate in a nest. And thirdly, it can inspire larger systems, by looking at ecosystems for example, where waste continuously gets upcycled such that no by-products are left behind.