The Da Vinci Index

What innovations does the tamandua inspire?

“Biomimicry is one of the most promising scientific fields that could transform the way goods and services are designed, produced, transported, and distributed,” said Lynn Reaser, Ph.D., chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University’s Fermanian Business and Economic Institute. On Wednesday, August 24, Dr. Reaser presented this exciting news at a special biomimicry reception hosted by the San Diego Zoo, unveiling the Da Vinci Index.

The reception, first in a fall series of three, was held on a lovely summer evening at the San Diego Zoo. Guests took a stroll through the buzzing Nighttime Zoo to the Treetops meeting room, where appetizers and wine awaited them. After a period of getting to know other guests, everyone was called inside to meet a special animal ambassador, a South American tamandua. Guests learned about the tamandua’s unique adaptations and were then called upon to come up with their own innovations—there were an impressive number of tamandua-inspired technologies suggested!

Next, Dr. Reaser took the stage and introduced guests to the Da Vinci Index. Named after famed inventor and early “biomimicrist” Leonardo Da Vinci, the Index looked back over the past decade at biomimicry-related activity and tracked some exciting growth in just 10 short years. Starting in 2000 with a baseline number of 100, the Index measured at 713 by 2010! The Index serves the important purpose of providing a tangible means of measuring the field. It has four components: scholarly articles, patents, grant money awarded, and grant money spent. Tracking these four components gathers an ongoing and accurate sense of activity. The Index will be available on a quarterly basis. There is a very positive trajectory for biomimicry products, companies, and research, and the Da Vinci Index is a significant move toward the establishment of it as a legitimate field for venture capital, scientific research, entrepreneurship, and academia, among others.

Point Loma Nazarene University and the San Diego Zoo, along with CONNECT, the City of San Diego, San Diego State University, University of San Diego, and University of California, San Diego are members of Biomimicry BRIDGE, a San Diego-based collaboration promoting biomimicry in business, research, innovation, design, governance and education. The Da Vinci Index, the first product of the BRIDGE group, is an exciting step in the growing field of biomimicry.

The next biomimicry reception will be on Wednesday, September 28, 2011, and will feature Dr. David Kisailus of University of California, Riverside, who will speak to his research in biomaterials and bridging biology with engineering. More information can be found on the biomimicry section of our website.

Dena Emmerson is a biomimicry research assistant at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Pandas, Bamboo, and Biomimicry.

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