design challenges

apply biomimicry to real world challenges

open innovation

Apply biomimicry to your key challenges within your organisation. Your team can work together with our team to leverage nature's genius and wisdom to solve and dissolve your challenges. It's called leveraging the great wide open for open innovation. Or we can facilitate an open innovation process around your challenge. This facilitated open innovation process involves students. We reach more students through practical training processes as they work through your design challenge, mentored by our team. You contribute to student training while having biomimicry applied to your design challenge. Contact us to find out more.


student design challenges

Is your university/department interested in enabling students through practical biomimicry training? Would you like your students to work on real world design challenges? Our open innovation process couples organisational design challenges with relevant university departments through a facilitated student design challenge process. All you need to do is contact us to participate as an organisation or student.  


  • In 2014, the robotics company Festo (with genius bionic robotics) funded a student design challenge for universities in Cape Town. Teams of students worked together to solve the design challenge - receiving biomimicry training and mentoring support along the way. The shortlisted teams built prototypes in a prototype workshop we ran for them. See the video below for a brief summary of that initiative.

  • In 2016, we are partnering with University of Johannesburg and the Klipriviersberg Project. Students will be trained in biomimicry and apply their biomimicry skills to real challenges affecting the Klipriviersberg. 

  • Contact us if you are interested in leveraging students and our biomimicry processes for open innovation opportunities for your company/organisation/department. 

biomimicrySA Student Design Challenge 2014 Mini Doci biomimicrySA powered by The Bionic Learning Network of FESTO, a global leader in automation technology, industrial training and education programs ran a student design challenge in Cape Town as part of World Design Capital 2014. Directed & Produced Matthew Rosmarin, Assistant Producer Jason Snell, DOP Tinashe Chikwanda. Edited Matthew Rosmarin & Tinashe Chikwanda


practical project

A powerful component of our Learning Journey is for us to mentor you through applying biomimicry to a real world challenge. Maybe you're working on a project at work/in your studies that you would like to apply biomimicry to. The best way is to learn by doing - and with our mentoring process, we ensure your process is guided by experience. This component contributes to a qualification as a Biomimicry Practitioner in your field of work.  Some of the projects that have received mentorship from biomimicrySA to date include:

  1. Urban agriculture in the Johannesburg CBD - a biomimicry perspective. 
  2. Learning from nature to enhance a biodynamic wine farm's wastewater management system. 
  3. A biomimicry approach for pathogen removal from wastewater. Results published as a Water Tool through the Water Research Commission.
  4. How does nature take collective decisions - applying biomimicry in organisations.
  5. Disaster management - how can nature enhance resilience before and after disaster?
  6. Designing innovative biomimicry education materials inspired by nature. 
  7. Biomimicry applied to the design of a mid-income housing development - water management system - in Gauteng.
  8. Biomimicry applied to leadership in organisations 
  9. Biomimicry applied to the design of an eco-village in the Eastern Cape
  10. Integrating biomimicry into school and university education using Waldorf schools and CPUT design department as case studies.

global design challenge

The Biomimicry Global Design Challenge is an annual team competition that focuses on addressing critical sustainability issues with nature-inspired solutions. The Challenge is hosted by the Biomimicry Institute, in partnership with the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. The challenge is open to teams of students and professionals anywhere in the world. Finalists and winners selected by an expert jury are eligible to win prize money as well as assistance in bringing their solution to the global marketplace via an Accelerator program. At the end of the Accelerator one team will be awarded the $100,000 "Ray of Hope" prize, endowed the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. The Challenge is coordinated each year around a theme, or problem area, for which participating teams are asked to design solutions. Learn more about the current theme by reading the Challenge Brief and browsing the reference collection. To help teams that are new to the practice of biomimicry, the Biomimicry Institute also provides extensive online resources as well as a directory of experts and mentors who are available as advisors. The Challenge includes two entry categories: one for students only (high school or university) and an open category, which teams of any composition can enter. Judging and awards are category specific and only entrants in the open category are eligible to advance to the Accelerator program. Learn more about eligibility and categories of entry on the Rules and FAQs page.