Product, Service & Design Innovation
Biomimicry Design Challenge Expands to Include $10K Living Product Prize

The annual competition from the Biomimicry Insititute is spreading its wings: The Biomimicry Global Design Challenge (BGDC) is expanding to include the Living Product Prize. Products that function as elegantly as if they were created by the natural world will compete for a new $10,000 prize, and the winner will go on to compete for the $100,000 “Ray of Hope” Prize.

Entrants vying for the Living Product Prize must meet the rigorous performance categories outlined in the Living Product Challenge (LPC), a program of the International Living Future Institute. “Living Products” are designed with inspiration from biomimicry or biophilia, manufactured by processes powered only by renewable energy, and operate within the water balance of the places they are made.

“The Biomimicry Global Design Challenge is unique in that we ask students and entrepreneurs one basic question: 'Can you solve a human design problem by following nature's design principles?' In the past, we have had great, nature-inspired designs, but the submissions did not address material health and safety,” Biomimicry Institute executive director Beth Rattner said.

“The LPC takes this important next step, recognizing material selection, lifecycle analysis and sustainable manufacturing as imperatives to create true transformation in the marketplace.”

The BGDC aims to accelerate the development of nature-inspired solutions to critical sustainability issues, and the competition hosts hope that the Living Product Prize will help launch one of the world’s first commercially-viable Living Products.

“The holistic framework of the Living Product Challenge provides a measuring stick for performance and a guideline for sustainable manufacturing,” said Amanda Sturgeon, the CEO of the International Living Future Institute. “Biomimicry is a critical tool in creating products that demonstrate the business case for manufacturing that works in harmony with natural systems, so it only makes sense that we would collaborate on advancing these products.”

The deadline for submissions is May 11, 2016. The entries will be evaluated according to 7 criteria: biomimicry process; context and relevance; social and environmental benefits; feasibility; creativity; communication and presentation; and team. Each submission to the BGDC is eligible for the Living Product Prize, along with the overall Challenge prizes. Entries in the ‘student category’ will be eligible for a $1,500 prize, while entries in the ‘open category’ (which is open to both students and professionals) will be eligible for the $10,000 prize. Finalists in the open category will receive additional coaching and technical consultations from the LPC team, valued at over $5,000.

As with last year, this year’s competition theme is food systems. Entries must identify and solve a specific food-related problem, emulate one or more mechanisms, processes, patterns, or systems found in nature, and enhance the sustainability of the food system, whether from an environmental, social, or economic perspective – or ideally all three. What entrants focus on within the broad category of the “food system” is up to them. Those which choose to focus on solutions related to crop succession in a perennial agricultural system will also be eligible for The Land Institute sub-challenge of the BGDC.

The first round finalists for the 2015 food systems theme ranged from an alternative drainage tilling system to an edible insects capture system, to a networking app, to growing systems. The winners were announced in October.

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