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Nature-Inspired Innovation May Generate $425B by 2030

On April 24, the first annual Risk and Value Creation Forum, a finance innovation conference focused on evolving the concept of risk (as a key constraint in achieving sustainability goals), new risk frameworks, and biomimetic technology innovation as a sustainable value creation opportunity (at the startup and public company level), will take place in Mountain View, CA.

Based on the concept of biomimicry, popularized by writer Janine Benyus in 2002, the field of biomimetic innovation is growing rapidly. The PLNU Fermenian Economic Institute reports that activity in the field of innovation based on nature increased seven-fold from 2000 to 2013, and papers published around the field increased by eight-fold. Between 2012 and 2013, biomimetic patent issuance increased by 27% and scholarly articles jumped by 28%. They predict that by 2030, bioinspiration will generate $425 billion of U.S. GDP and $1.6 trillion of global GDP. Several universities including ASU and MCAD have launched biomimicry disciplines and design courses, respectively, and biomimicry design challenges are also gaining popularity.

Next week’s Risk and Value Creation Forum will also host the launch of the BVC Fund, an early-stage biomimetic technology investment fund, and feature portfolio companies from StartupNectar, a biomimetic technology incubator, who are also co-producing the conference.

The conference is "part of broader work towards building an economy that creates conditions conducive to life," Lina Constantinovici, Partner at BVC Fund and founder of StartupNectar, said in a statement. The selection criteria is breakthrough biomimetic technologies that have the potential to transform entire industries at the materials science level — with water, energy, and materials science as the three investment categories.

"I'm excited about the event because it enables investors to evaluate opportunities to generate returns from biomimetic innovation from the startup to the public company level," Constantinovici told SB. "Most biomimetic innovation conferences have had a much broader focus, intended to have general appeal to a broader audience at the education or inspiration level — the intention with this conference is to engage those who have the agency to bring investment capital to this space and ensure that the breakthrough technologies based on nearly 4 billion years of R&D that nature has done, have the capital and other necessary resources to return financial as well as environmental and social value."

Over 100 thought leaders are expected at the event. Speakers include:

  • Rick Bookstaber, Research Principal, Office of Financial Research at US Treasury
  • Lynn Reaser, Chief Economist PLNU, and Chief Economist for the Council of Economic Advisors for California State Treasurer
  • Tomas Carruthers, CEO of the London Social Stock Exchange
  • Simon Tribelhorn, CEO of Liechtenstein Bank Association and Executive Director of LIFE Climate Foundation Liechtenstein
  • Eva Willmann de Donlea, Director Sustainability Intelligence P/L and former Chair of The Climate Council
  • Darren Beck, Director of Environmental Initiatives and Shared Value at Sprint
  • Steve Hipskind, Head of Earth Sciences at NASA

The conference will also highlight emerging trends on modeling and managing risk, the latest insights in finance innovation aligned with nature’s strategies, and a pitch session platform for entrepreneurs and investors with a focus on emerging value-creation opportunities.

"I am really looking forward to sharing with our participants some of the most promising technologies in our StartupNectar and BVC Fund pipeline," Constantinovici said. "We will have 8 startups from around the world presenting at the pitch event, all based on nature's strategies — from lightweight, impact-resistant composites based on the dactyl of a mantis shrimp, to water treatment technologies, to carbon sequestration technologies, to energy solutions. This is a great opportunity to have a glimpse into what's happening in the space of biomimetic innovation."

The agenda includes a number of key value-creation discussions around biomimetic technology, how to align economic activity with Earth’s operating conditions, changing the way banks value risk and how to protect your company’s assets, and will close with a reminder from NASA's Hipskind that our economy is a fully owned subsidiary of our planetary systems.

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