Biomimicry 3.8 Institute | FAQ | Our New Name and Branding
What’s the word?
As you may have heard, our aligned organizations have a new name: Biomimicry 3.8.
Does The Biomimicry Institute have a new name, as well?
Yes. All of our donor- and grant-funded programs and initiatives previously operated by The Biomimicry Institute will now reside under the “Biomimicry 3.8 Institute.” These include our Student Design Challenge, Education Summit, AskNature.org, and all of our K-12 and University education programs, plus more on the horizon.
What does Biomimicry 3.8 mean?
The “3.8” in our name refers to the more than 3.8 billion years that life has been adapting and evolving to changing conditions on the planet since the very first life forms emerged. In essence, there are 3.8 billion years of brilliant solutions from which humankind can learn from, actively apply, and use to innovate for a better world.
Why the change?
We recognized—and frankly were wowed by—the promise and power of unifying non-profit with for-profit as a cause-driven “social enterprise.” This model allows the Institute to continue to seek charitable funding from individuals and foundations that share our vision, and also to diversify our funding streams to ensure we aren’t entirely dependent on any particular entity to achieve our mission.
Is this uncharted territory?
Fortunately for everyone and everything living on this planet, tens of thousands of companies are now committing to what’s referred to as a Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet and Profit. Some of these, including Biomimicry 3.8, are Certified B Corporations. Moreover, though we only recently unified with one name, our non-profit and for-profit operations have been working together since The Biomimicry Institute was founded in 2006.
Through our educational non-profit, we’ve created the world’s first online library of nature’s solutions, aptly named AskNature. We’ve mobilized a network of K-12 teachers and university professors to teach biomimicry to the next generation. At the same time, our consulting company, has helped over 250 clients worldwide redesign carpets, furniture, manufacturing processes, airplanes, and even entire cities, all in nature’s sustainable image.
Both separately and together, our organizations have reached hundreds of thousands through talks and trained hundreds who now practice biomimicry in their professions. It’s been a fabulous ride.
How does this integration benefit the separate entities?
We have essentially just formalized our already symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship. As ever, we’re endeavoring to be known as THE source for all things biomimicry—non-profit, for-profit, and everywhere in between.
Biomimicry 3.8 extends and expands upon the Biomimicry Guild and The Biomimicry Institute’s heritage of bringing together scientists, engineers, architects, and other innovators to create sustainable technologies and business practices. Under Biomimicry 3.8 we will share resources and best practices so that we can increase efficiency and expand our reach.
The opportunities for interconnectivity between all of our programs are significantly enhanced by this integration. We can—and will—look to nature for inspiration in how best to achieve this.
Will this new structure change anything about the Institute and the non-profit education work we’re doing in this arena?
The Biomimicry 3.8 Institute remains a 501(c)(3) public benefit organization with a commitment to promoting the study and emulation of nature’s design strategies. We will continue to provide biomimicry curricula, hold educator workshops and student design challenges, and provide opportunities for educators to network with one another.
The Institute was founded on the belief that in order for biomimicry to take hold, we must educate both students and teachers in the discipline. The need to integrate biomimicry methodology in our educational system still exists and is dramatically increasing.
Under Biomimicry 3.8, the Institute will receive more content, illustrations, and tools for AskNature. Also, the addition of more biomimicry experts under one roof allows us access to chemists, biologists, engineers, designers, architects, and more.
This interdisciplinary warehouse of knowledge translates into more content and resources that can be integrated into the classroom. In addition, the larger network allows the educational community to connect with practicing biomimics in various regions to bring even more collaborative opportunities to the forefront.
Did we actually “Ask Nature” about all of this?
Yes! One thing we’ve learned is that organisms never stop innovating to excel. They’re constantly adapting to their changing habitats—reshuffling genetic material, testing new behaviors, and sometimes evolving, like Darwin’s finches, into entirely new species.
So, in true biomimicry fashion, we asked ourselves: How would nature meet the changing needs of biomimics around the world? How would nature bring biomimicry to scale? The answer is Biomimicry 3.8, an exciting new direction that has us evolving and combining our relatively small non-profit Institute and neighboring consultancy into our emerging role as the world’s leading provider of education, training, resources, and network services in biomimicry.
What does Janine (Benyus) think about all of this?
As you likely know, Janine was a co-founder of The Biomimicry Institute in 2006, and is now a co-founder of Biomimicry 3.8. Her vision has guided our planning and transitioning process. So what does she think? Not only did we ask her, but we also captured her inspiring message on camera a couple of months ago. If you haven't seen her Biomimicry 3.8 announcement video yet, check it out.
If you want to donate to the non-profit, will all of your donation go there or will some go to the other areas of Biomimicry 3.8?
The finances of the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute, as per IRS rules, remain entirely separate from those of the larger social enterprise. All donations to the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute go to specifically support its not-for-profit programming.
What else is in the pipeline for the future?
We’ll be rolling out new materials and announcing updates across our programs over the coming months, and we’re working on a large-scale expansion and redesign of AskNature.org, three new online courses for professionals, and new Nature’s Chemistry curricula for high school and first year university students.
The Institute’s award-winning library of nature’s strategies, AskNature, will get a content boost, too, largely from those who participate in our student design challenges, professional training courses, and corporate consulting services.
There’s more to come and we’re really excited about this transition. Though we’ve only provided a keyhole view of all the great things we’re planning as a result of this organizational unification, we hope you can see that this is an amazing time for the Institute and for all of you who are our students, educators, donors, grant funders, researchers, fellows, affiliates, peers, and fans—of us and of biomimicry.
Want to talk about any of it?
GREAT. Please don’t hesitate to give us a ring—call your usual point of contact with us, or Ali Solomon, 406.543.4108, ext. 300—or even drop by if you’re in the neighborhood or at one of our events. Meantime, “act naturally,” as we like to say. Thank you for your support. With all that Biomimicry 3.8 now promises, the future just got a whole lot brighter.