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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Biomimicry Institute Seeks Nature-Inspired Innovations for $100K Ray of Hope Prize®

The Ray of Hope Prize competition gives startups a chance to get their biomimetic innovations to market; entrepreneurs with nature-inspired design solutions for climate mitigation, carbon sequestration or the SDGs have until December 31 to apply.

The Biomimicry Institute, the non-profit organization that empowers people to create nature-inspired solutions, is inviting biomimicry startups that have created products, services or technologies to be considered for the 2020 Ray of Hope Prize®, a $100,000 prize competition that provides participants funding to accelerate their path to commercial success. Applications are due December 31, 2019.

Beyond eligibility for the $100,000 equity-free prize, all participants are given pitch training, product refinement and storytelling techniques. Participants also gain access to a growing community of biomimicry designers and entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and potential investors. Solutions that have already been developed past the idea stage, and are able to demonstrate some sort of user adoption, will be most successful.

This year’s challenge is particularly geared toward solutions that address carbon sequestration, climate change adaptation or mitigation, critical sustainability challenges, or any of the United NationsSustainable Development Goals.

“Our belief is that biomimicry drastically reduces a technology’s time to market, because the technology has already been proven to work in nature in a cost-effective, sustainable way,” said Jared Yarnall-Schane, Entrepreneurship Director at the Biomimicry Institute.

The 2019 Ray of Hope Prize winner, Boston-based Watchtower Robotics, developed a patented, soft-bodied robot that mimics elements of octopuses, jellyfish and the lateral line system in fish. The tiny robots are capable of detecting leaks in pipes of any material and in any structure — including pipes with small diameters — unlike current technologies available on the market. Watchtower has completed pilots in Saudi Arabia, the US and the UK, including two of the largest water utility companies in the world.

Other past winners have included 2018 winner Nucleário, a company that offers a smarter, cheaper and faster approach for large-scale forest restoration by reducing seedling maintenance. Inspired by winged seeds, bromeliads and forest leaf litter, the Nucleário Planting System eliminates the need for irrigation, herbicides, and pesticides. 2017 Ray of Hope Prize winner NexLoop designs products and systems to collect and integrate in situ atmospheric water sources into sustainable and affordable urban food production, which was inspired by spiders, ice plants and mycorrhizal fungi.

“These past prize winners demonstrate exactly why our foundation is proud to support this program,” says John A. Lanier, Executive Director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. “When entrepreneurs turn to nature as their teacher, they remind us of life’s brilliance and how much more we have to learn. These startups prove that biomimicry offers a better pathway to success.”

Applications are now open to join a community of entrepreneurs around the world in building successful biomimicry businesses, accelerating the development and commercialization of biomimicry innovations, and becoming the next generation of sustainability entrepreneurs. Entries will be accepted from now until December 31, 2019. Finalist teams are selected in March 2020 and will be invited to participate in a virtual 4-week Biomimicry, Startup and Pitch Training event beginning in April 2020.

Learn more and apply at