Get nature-inspired innovation delivered to your inbox!

How has the Kingfisher changed transportation?

Shinkansen Bullet Train

Japanese trains were breaking the sound barrier, but it wasn’t any fun for the residents nearby. Every time the Shinkansen trains went in and out of tunnels, a giant boom jolted throughout the town.

Inspired by the kingfisher’s ability to dive head first into water without creating any splash at all, the train company adopted a completely new look.

The shape of the kingfisher’s beak has always broke through the surface of water seamlessly, but now it’s reducing air pressure by 30% in Japanese trains, allowing transportation to reach record speeds.

What Is Biomimicry?

Biomimicry is the practice of learning from nature and emulating its forms, processes and systems to solve human problems and drive innovation. People started doing this a long time ago: Leonardo da Vinci observed nature, which was reflected in his design drawings, and the Wright brothers studied bird wings to create flight.

Throughout the world and across industries, people are drawing from nature’s genius once again. A product inspired by sharkskin actually repels bacteria by design, not chemicals – perfect for use in medical settings. Japan’s bullet train was redesigned thanks to a birdwatcher and engineer who was inspired by the kingfisher’s seamless entry into water and the owl’s near silent flight. (The train is now quieter, 10% faster and uses 15% less electricity.) Velcro was inspired by burdock burrs, which easily stick to your clothes through a hook-and-loop design.

Biomimicry offers a pathway to sustainabilty. By mimicking nature, we can create life-friendly products, buildings and cities. Teams can work together more intelligently when operating as a living system. When we closely align to nature's principles, our world can flourish.

When it comes to innovation, nature offers 3.8 billion years worth of insights and clever adaptations. Adding biomimicry into an innovation toolobox can help businesses solve a problem or create a disruptive technology.  

“If you’re not incorporating the most brilliant ideas from the natural world into what you sell, you’re leaving money on the table.” - FORTUNE Magazine (March 2017)

Worldwide Impact

In the next decade, biomimicry is expected to:

Contribute $425 billion annually to U.S. GDP
Provide $500 billion mitigating natural resource depletion/reducing CO2 pollution
Represent about $1.6 trillion of global GDP
Account for 2 million U.S. jobs (by 2030)

Data provided by Fermanian Business and Economic Institute, Nazarene University

What Would Nature Do?

Faced with a challenge, Parker Hannifin asked: What would nature do?

Parker Hannifin’s Cergom™ hose extended the life of abrasive material-handling pipes from two weeks to over six years.

View Case Study

great lakes biomimicry

Great Lakes Biomimicry (GLB) is an entrepreneurial non-profit based in Cleveland that helps organizations learn from nature to accelerate innovation. Since its inception in 2010, GLB has created a biomimicry ecosystem in Northeast Ohio that connects businesses, universities, research, startups, and informal and formal education institutions. GLB teaches companies biomimicry thinking as a new innovation tool through professional development, Innovation Services consulting, and the Biomimicry Fellowship Program with partner The University of Akron, as well as the world’s only biomimicry Corporate Innovation Council. 


Create the conditions for innovation inspired by nature. 


Our vision is that the Great Lakes Region is a biomimicry hub where innovation inspired by nature creates a sustainable, competitive advantage for the economy, leading to healthy growth.


Our Professional Education Workshops  range from half-day to two-day experiences that give budding biomimics a perspective-shifting look at how learning from nature can enrich existing innovation processes. Outcomes are achieved through a mix of experiential learning, presentation, discussion, hands-on activities (group and individual), video, case studies and immersion in nature. Learn more about our workshops

Our Innovation Services consulting will provide your team with a new innovation tool and help your company uncover potential solutions to a product, process or systemic challenge. Benefits include:

  • Enrich your existing innovation process.
  • Learn how to get at the essential, central question for a challenge and craft a more powerful Innovation Objective.
  • Kickstart idea generation and infuse new sources of stimulus into ideation sessions. 
  • Spark ideas for your company's sustainability efforts.

Learn more about Innovation Services

The Biomimicry Fellowship Program was launched in 2012 by The University of Akron's Biomimicry Research & Innovation Center in collaboration with Great Lakes Biomimicry. Biomimicry Fellows are supported through an industrial assistantship with an organizational sponsor. Over the course of a five-year doctoral program, Biomimicry Fellows dedicate 20 hours per week to advancing biomimicry initiatives within their sponsoring organization, while undertaking biomimicry-focused dissertation research. Learn more about the program


Partners and Funders

Service Providers

Thank you to the agencies providing in-kind technical and professional services to support our operations:

Cohen & Company

Fay Sharpe

The Impact Group

Lorain County Community College

Marcus Thomas LLC

McMahon DeGulis

Thompson Hine

The University of Akron's Biomimicry and Research Innovation Center