8 business lessons from the birds and the bees; So-called biomimicry, in which scientists copy nature to solve human problems, is taking hold in industries from energy to consumer goods

8 business lessons from the birds and the bees

So-called biomimicry, in which scientists copy nature to solve human problems, is taking hold in industries from energy to consumer goods. Imagine a day when bees provide inspiration for energy efficient buildings and cars that drive themselves, sharks offer the promise to reduced hospital infections and geckos give ideas for hanging big-screen TV sets. It’s already here. The burgeoning field of biomimicry, in which scientists copy nature to solve human problems, has drawn interest across industries — from energy to consumer goods. “There is a whole pipeline of people inventing by looking to the natural world,” says Janine Benyus, founder of Biomimicry 3.8, a consultancy that has helped Colgate-Palmolive (CLFortune 500), Levis, Nike (NKEFortune 500) and Boeing (BAFortune 500) reformulate products using biomimicry Here’s a look at how nature is breeding new ideas.

Geckos

Amherst University scientists studied how geckos cling flat to surfaces to develop a copycat reusable fabric for hanging heavy loads. The gravity-defying secret: a unique arrangement of tendons and skin. The fabric, called “geckskin,” could be on the market in 2014. A piece the size of an index card could hold everything from glass to a 42-inch TV screen — anything up to 700 pounds — on a flat surface.

Bees

Bees coordinate to do amazing tasks like building nests and chasing off invaders. Now Toronto-based Regen Energy has applied that “swarm logic” to develop software that lets heating and cooling units in big box stores work together wirelessly to decide when and how often units run to maximize energy efficiency. Target (TGTFortune 500) and Sears (SHLDFortune 500)rely on Regen Energy to manage energy at their stores.

Lotus Leaf

Germany’s stucco and coating company Sto AG created a unique kind of exterior paint modeled after the lotus leaf’s ability to dry quickly and stay clean after a rainstorm. Sto copied the plant’s bumpy microstructure to come up with Lotusan paint, designed to stay cleaner and last twice as long as traditional paint.

Lotus Leaf II

Mussels

Northwestern University researchers studied the sticking power of mussels and found that they have unique protein-based adhesives that works well in wet environments. They then copied that makeup to create polymer surgical glue that one day could repair fetal membranes and hopefully prevent preterm labor.

Termites

Termite mounds inspired African architect Michael Pearce when designing a Zimbabwe shopping center. The finished Eastgate Centre copies the mounds’ natural thermal design, using ducts and 48 huge chimneys to move hot daytime air out. The building uses 60% less energy than traditional buildings.

Fish

Nissan is researching how schooling fish and bumblebees can work together to change direction, traveling side-by-side at the same speed and navigating intelligently to avoid obstacles. The goal: mimic that system in cars that drive themselves, avoiding traffic jams and collisions.

Sharks

A University of Florida professor discovered that the tiny microscopic diamond-shape patterns on a shark’s skin actually allow the animal to stay free of marine bacteria. Now Sharklet Technologies in Aurora, Colo., mimics those mathematical patterns to create antibacterial surface textures for medical devices and hospital countertops. Depending on the pathogen, the textures can cut bacteria by 90% to 99.9%.

Fireflies

The inspiration behind better light bulbs in your home? Fireflies. Scientists in Belgium, France, and Canada studied then copied the firefly’s jagged pattern on its reflector panels to come up with a new coating for brighter LED lights. The result: a 55% boost in efficiency compared to traditional LED lights. Researchers hope the innovation will lead to better LEDs in camera phones, televisions, cars, and residential lighting.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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