Report indicates that biomimicry may be major economic driver for San Diego
Conservation-based study by Fermanian Business and Economic Institute
to be shared at San Diego Zoo event
A conservation-based field may be the next economic trend for San Diego, according to an impact report to be released next week. The report, commissioned by the San Diego Zoo from the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute (FBEI) at Point Loma Nazarene University, works to quantify the burgeoning field of biomimicry and its effect on San Diego. Details of the report will be announced by Dr. Lynn Reaser, chief economist of the FBEI and principal author of the report, at an event at the San Diego Zoo on November 18.
Biomimicry is the discipline of studying nature’s best ideas and then applying these designs and processes to solve human problems. Notable examples of biomimicry-inspired products include Velcro, wind turbines inspired from whale flippers, bullet trains based upon a kingfisher’s beak, and many others. Companies that are currently working in this field include QUALCOMM, Proctor and Gamble, and PAX Scientific, as well as entrepreneurial startups.
“The completed report organizes many existing efforts in this field by significant companies across the globe, then develops in greater detail the potential economic and investment implications on the global, U.S., and regional economies, and finally articulates a compelling case for making the San Diego region a global biomimicry hub,” said Randy M. Ataide, executive director of the FBEI. ““Biomimicry could represent a revolutionary change in our economy by transforming many of the ways we think about designing, producing, transporting and distributing goods and services.”
The San Diego Zoo’s effort to build biomimicry as a new approach to solving technical and economic challenges arises from its mission to conserve endangered species. “The key to biomimicry is the value we place on natural systems and species,” said Paula Brock, chief financial officer for the San Diego Zoo. “Biomimicry offers an opportunity to bring successful economics together with conservation. We hope this study will inspire new companies and entrepreneurs to focus upon the development of this field.”
A key finding of the report is that biomimicry holds the potential to attract sizable capital inflows, driven by the prospects of rapid growth and high rates of return, and that venture capital potential could flow into the field at a pace at least equal to that of biotech, estimated to be about $4.5 billion in the U.S. in 2010. Modeling done by the FBEI projects that a San Diego biomimicry hub could add $325 million to San Diego’s gross regional product and $162 million in total personal income on an annual basis, with an initial 2,100 new jobs created for San Diego.
The study also analyzed the multi-year efforts of the San Diego Zoo, administered by San Diego Zoo Global, in encouraging the viability of biomimicry and concluded that this work and investment in the field has successfully positioned the region to now lead in the formation of a global biomimicry hub composed of critical regional stakeholders including for-profit and non-profit firms, government agencies, private and public universities, scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs. The study determined that “The Zoo is currently the only facilities-based provider of biomimicry services in the world” and also that “The Zoo plans to build the first biomimicry research and education network to drive major biomimicry research and commercial applications.”
Attendees at the upcoming event will receive a copy of the entire report. Registration is required to attend. To RSVP for the November 18, 2010, event at the San Diego Zoo, visit www.sandiegozoo.org/biomimicry or call 619-231-1515, extension 5477. For further information or a copy of the report, contact Helen Cheng at HCheng@sandiegozoo.org or 619-552-3927 or Cathy Gallagher at the FBEI at CathyGallagher@pointloma.edu or 619-849-2564.