Lately, the Biomimicry PhD Fellowship Program has been attracting local and national media attention.
First, Rebecca Bagley, President and CEO of NorTech, blogged on Forbes.com about Five Tech Trends That Can Drive Company Success. Biomimicry topped the list of trends. The post mentioned the University of Akron’s $4.25 million commitment to research and innovation, including the appointment of 10 new biomimicry faculty over a period of six years. The first three hires, for fall 2014, will be in the areas of biodesign, comparative biomechanics, and soft materials. Bagley’s first post received so much positive feedback, that she did a follow-up a few weeks later titled Biomimicry: How Nature Can Streamline Your Business For Innovation. The second piece included rave reviews of the Biomimicry Fellowship Program from Pete Buca, head of Innovation & Technology at Parker Hannifin. Parker Hannifin was one of the first companies to sign on to sponsor a Corporate Biomimicry Fellow (Daphne).
Next, Balance, Inc. published an article on their collaboration with the first cohort of Biomimicry Fellows (Daphne, Bill, and myself). Each of us is spending time working in the Balance offices, gaining real world experience in a fast-paced design firm environment. I am in the midst of my ‘internship’ at Balance, and what a wonderful opportunity it has been! Balance and I are collaborating on a GOJO project. GOJO, my corporate sponsor, is a skin health and hygiene company best known for inventing Purell. I facilitated a biomimicry design workshop at GOJO, brought design concept output from the workshop to the Balance designers, and am working with them to develop one of these concepts into a working prototype. If all goes well, this collaboration could result in a marketable biomimetic product!!
Most recently, Great Lakes Biomimicry Collaborative (GLBio) was invited to do a Friday Forum panel at the City Club of Cleveland. An invitation to speak at the City Club is an incredible honor; past speakers include a number of U.S. Presidents: Franklin D. Roosevelt, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Theodore Roosevelt. The Friday Forum series is simulcast to listeners in 40 states, and broadcast on local television. Tom Tyrrell, Founder and CEO of GLBio; Ven Ochaya, GLBio Core Team and Director of Entrepreneurship and Sustainability MBA Programs at Baldwin Wallace University; and Peter Niewiarowski, GLBio Core Team, Director of UAkron Biomimicry PhD Fellowships, and UAkron Professor of Biology, sat on the panel. A video of the panel discussion has been uploaded to YouTube. Catherine the gecko makes a guest appearance at the four minute mark!
Media coverage, especially from such reputable sources, is not only exciting to share with friends and family (“LOOK MOM, I’M FAMOUS!”), it really reinforces our belief that we’re doing meaningful work here in Northeast Ohio.
On a completely unrelated note, I wanted to follow up on Kelly’s review of Frans de Waal’s The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society. If you’re interested in social interactions among higher animals, I highly recommend you watch PBS NOVA’s Inside Animal Minds: Who’s the Smartest. This episode includes footage of some really unique social interactions between bonobos, elephants, and dolphins. There is an opportunity for biomimicry here; I’m just not sure what it is yet…ideas?