For years, the Biomimicry Institute and founder Janine Benyus have asked, “How can nature-inspired design solve the world’s most pressing problems?” At the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, the Biomimicry Institute and the Ray C. Anderson Foundation upped the ante by asking, “How can we accelerate the commercial viability of biomimetic solutions to our greatest challenges?”
In response, the two nonprofits jointly announced their CGI Commitment to Action, officially launching the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge (BGDC) and creating the $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize™ designed to bring commercially viable solutions from the design lab to the market. The first two years of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge have been dedicated to the pursuit of biomimetic solutions to global food security challenges.
In October 2015, finalists from the 2015 Design Challenge were announced at a Biomimicry Conference held in Austin, TX and three of the teams received cash awards. Read the 2015 finalist press release and view the 2015 finalist videos.
Seven of the 2015 Design Challenge team finalists entered the accelerator phase, and returned in October 2016 at the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, CA with commercially-viable prototypes, designed to be scalable.
The first $100,000 Ray C. Anderson Foundation Ray of Hope Prize (2016) was awarded to the BioNurse Team from Chile.
The second Ray C. Anderson Foundation Ray of Hope Prize (2017) was awarded to Team NexLoop.
Design Challenge Shifted Focus to Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation
Teams entering the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge are now being asked to create a nature-inspired innovation (a product, service, or system) that combats climate change by either: helping communities adapt to or mitigate climate change impacts (i.e. those forecasted or already in motion), and/or reversing or slowing climate change itself (e.g. by removing excess greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere).
The 2017-18 Design Challenge Finalists were announced in July 2017. They will have the chance to compete for the Ray of Hope Prize in 2018.
The 2018-19 Design Challenge Finalists were announced in June 2018. They will have the chance to compete for the Ray of Hope Prize in 2019.
“Seeding and accelerating nature-inspired solutions to global challenges is the aim of this partnership,” said John Lanier, executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, "and climate change is at the core. I know that my grandfather, Ray Anderson, would have been and enthusiastic supporter of this Challenge and the teams who enter it.” said Lanier. “With our support, the best ideas will be the seeds of new businesses that will carry forward Ray’s vision – that with nature as a guide, business and industry can change the world for the better.”