Yesterday I attended a National Biomimicry Workshop, and the aim of this workshop was to position South Africa for successful nature-inspired innovations and product development. There were great presenters like Sue Swain, Claire Janisch, Jonny Harris and Jay Harman. It was truly a great workshop and the Q&A sessions, actually inspired this blog post. 🙂

The Water Research Council in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology, recognizes that investing in nature-inspired design R&D, has the potential for developing sustainable solutions and innovations to current water challenges, with significant potential for enterprise stimulation as alternate catalyst for economic development.

Biomimicry solutions carry less Risk and Liability, which is ultimately a good reason for business to start looking into this alternative approach.

However, even with all this buy-in from our Government and Case Studies to prove economic profitability, there seemed to be a feeling of “Where do I start – am I doing it right?” from workshop attendees.

Good news! It’s is easy to do something, and it is even easier to assess if you are doing it right!


Step 1: Figure out what your passion is

You are not Miss World and you cannot solve all the problems at once, so just choose one thing you are passionate about and invest your energy there.  Examples of interest might include Food, Water, Waste, Packaging, Processes, etc. Find out what you are passionate about and focus on that.

Step 2: Set attainable goals

Solve one problem at a time – no matter how small it is. Zone into your problem area and really understand what is “under the hood”. Tackle one issue at a time and when you hit a speed bump, move onto the next issue. If your interest is packaging, start understanding the packaging life cycle. Choose one problem which you know you are able to influence or improve on.

Step 3: Challenge your mind set

Ask yourself when you use or do something – Is there a different way of making or doing this? Start reading about your interest, and if you don’t enjoy reading watch a YouTube video. Challenge yourself to question things.

Step 4: Use Life’s Principles and evaluate a product or service?

Choose a product or service you are familiar with, and evaluate it against Life’s Principles. Solutions are truly Biomimetic if they meet all of Life’s Principles, and the more Literal, the better. This should also allow you to see potential areas for improvement in these systems and processes. Lifes_Principles_Handout_FINAL(1)

Step 5: Get started!

Set your own aspirational goals for your pet project, through using Life’s Principles. Start implementing small changes, talk to people, and just get involved. Just start doing it….whatever it is. If your intent is to create conditions which are conducive to life, any improvement will contribute positively.


I urge you to read Jay Harman’s book – Shark’s Paintbrush ( It is an easy read and explains various Biomimicry solutions in lay-man’s terms. Here is a link to the Biomimicry Water Tool – Nature’s Solutions to Water Treatment Challenges, which is also a great reference point for Biomimicry design solution examples. Biomimicry Water Tool


“There is no better time than now. The time to live is now. The time to dream is now. The time to imagine and forget the past in now. The time to shine is now. The time to bleed, sweat, and determine yourself for the things you want most is now. ” Anonymous