In this new biomimicry-inspired incubation model, biologists match animal and plant species’ natural adaptations to the functional requirements of specific industrial challenges.  Once the biologists have gathered the options, then the engineers and designers get to work.

Centre for BioInspiration


We advance the creation and development of nature-inspired products, services, and processes that benefit humanity, wildlife, and habitats. Our aim is to transfer ideas into working models, novel technologies, and breakthrough designs. The Centre protects intellectual property and attracts capital funding to foster true innovation and development opportunities. We connect academic, public, and industrial sectors to accelerate commercial and community solutions.

BioInspiration Adaptation Examples

What We Do

1. Corporate Projects: We work with companies to connect nature’s adaptations to specific design and industrial challenges. Our process typically comprises three phases: (1) challenge scoping and definition, (2) ideation workshop(s) and (3) development workshop(s).

2. Centre Development Projects:Our team applies San Diego Zoo Global’s collective knowledge and expertise to advance internally-developed technologies, processes, and ideas. We offer out-licensing and partnership opportunities to select companies and organizations.

3. Education and Outreach: The Centre promotes our interdisciplinary approach to problem solving through speaking engagements, corporate services, and collaborations. San Diego Zoo Global education programs encourage students of all ages to observe, create, and design alongside plants and animals.

Conversation with the Managing Director -- Excerpts:
  •  [We are trying to] formalize technology transfer of Nature’s ideas.  It’s 4 billion years of evolution. Nature’s thrown away all those mistakes.. kept a lot of adaptations that are fascinating, and we’re starting to learn that they may address many of the challenges we face in industry.  

  • The CFO at the zoo, Paula Brock, over five years ago realized the vast amount of information that is sitting in the zoo in the animal and plant collections and the people taking care of them… and how that applied to this new field of biomimicry, which we refer to as bioinspiration…. We are absolutely a natural to contribute to that.

  • We are building a model…that can be used by botanical gardens, aquaria, natural history museums, and others who are sitting on a wealth of information.

  • A number of the top corporations in the U.S. and Europe have contacted us and said “We have an industrial challenge…” and we started taking them on. 

  • We broke it down into functions that we could link to nature’s adaptations…. That alone creates a lot of innovation...  Next we developed it into a working model to come up with new materials and new ways…

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Sue Lebeck 

  Cool Block Platform Director

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