Biomimicry – Innovative Solutions Inspired by Nature May 25, 2011 RICCentre By Jasmeet Duggal Part 2 of the highlights from OCE Discovery 2011 I recently read an article in the May 2011 issue of Backbone Magazine that emphasized the need to invest more heavily in designing electrical systems (i.e. SmartGrids) that are intelligent. At OCE Discovery 2011, Michael Pawlyn gave the keynote “Biomimicry – A New Paradigm In Sustainable Design.” Biomimicry looks for sustainable innovations that are inspired by nature. Pawlyn emphasized key transformations harnessed by nature to produce restorative designs: radical increases in resource efficiency, moving from a linear to closed loop model, and shifting from a fossil fuel economy to a solar economy. Going back to the article, how can SmartGrids be more intelligent? “What would nature do?” This is the fundamental question that is asked in the discipline of biomimicry. The Toronto-based firm, Regen Energy, has taken design inspiration from nature and applied it to making SmartGrids smarter. Regen’s flagship technology is a wireless device based on swarm logic. If we think of a chaotic swarm, swarm logic is the ability of a collection of bees to find, most effectively, their food source. Regen’s device allows appliances to talk to each other through a specific algorithm based on this swarm logic. With the intention of minimizing how much power the appliances use, collectively, the device is linked to equipment that cycles on and off to minimize energy use. Nature is the most educated scientist with over $3.8 billion years of R&D experience. All of its creations are a catalogue of what works and what doesn’t. It is a master of restorative design and a powerful way to innovate to provide sustainable solutions to today’s design challenges. – Jasmeet Duggal, from the Biomimicry Seminar at OCE Discovery 2011 Jasmeet Duggal is graduate student pursuing her final year in the Master of Biotechnology program at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She is currently the Communications Officer for the RIC Centre, a role which has allowed her to engage in the startup culture and entrepreneurship. In her future endeavors, Jasmeet hopes to pursue a career in business development in the life sciences.