ORGANIZATION NAME: The Biomimicry Institute

SUMMARY: AskNature is an immense, web-based interactive database and learning tool which seeks to catalog and present solutions to the most pressing human challenges by enabling its audiences to draw from time-tested strategies evolved by nature. AskNature aspires to make bio-inspired design widely accessible for educational and industrial applications.

PROBLEM SPACE: “We’re running out of time to solve critical sustainability challenges. How we design our world’s cities, products, services, and policies must be redefined. Biomimicry offers a promising path forward.

Many challenges we face are analogous to those nature has adapted to over billions of years. We aren’t the first species to purify water, fight infection, or build homes. Nature operates in a life-friendly manner that doesn’t pollute, guzzle fossil fuels, or mortgage our future.

Outside our windows and distributed amongst the unstructured web is a wellspring of knowledge that can inform a regenerative future. But a chasm still exists for many innovators, and unless we can cross it, biomimicry will remain the domain of the few innovators skilled and interested enough to decipher primary biological literature. This leaves a knowledge divide for the millions of non-biologically trained engineers, architects, product designers, planners, chemists, material scientists, even policy makers for whom nature’s strategies would be a revelation.”

SOLUTION: “AskNature’s information and tools help to bridge that divide, enabling innovators to discover and understand nature’s strategies that are relevant to their specific challenges, and empowering them to translate their findings into application-ready concepts.

AskNature is currently the world’s most comprehensive web-based catalog of nature’s solutions to human challenges. It features over 1,700 biological strategies, organized by function and described via non-technical summaries, diagrams, scientific abstracts, multi-media, application ideas, and more. In addition, this biological content is augmented by over 200 records describing biologically inspired ideas and a library of hundreds of educational resources that help people learn and teach about biomimicry.

In the future, AskNature ​is slated to incorporate ​a significantly greater breadth of annotated content, ​organized in ways that make it easier to find for more types of problems solvers, and presented in ways that are even easier to understand and apply. ​​This content will be collected and presented with the help of AI-powered services focused on text analysis and classification, recommendation systems, evidence-based reasoning, and conversational interfaces.

​As a broadly accessible service, AskNature opens many of its users’ eyes to a new way of problem solving and fosters cross-disciplinary cooperation around nature’s strategies. This quote from Buckminster Fuller succinctly identifies the key factor that drives the project forward: “”If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.””

CONTACT: [email protected]