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Obernai, 28.08.2019

[Interview] Biomimetics, its challenges, its future by Idriss Aberkane

What are the economic challenges for biomimetics ? Finding processes that are less polluting, less energy-greedy, recyclable, safer, of better quality, less costly; does it mean imitating nature in order to save it?

The major and promising trend in the 21st century is to do with industrial ecosystems. Meaning that one company’s waste becomes a source of supply for another. It means thinking in terms of the food chain, so that companies no longer just see supplier-customer relationships. It will mean creating a sort of “ecosystem relationship”, in which one day their waste can be treated as an asset on the balance sheet, rather than a liability. This has already happened many times in history. The emperor Vespasian, by creating public toilets in Rome, earned money by selling urine for various products, fertilisers, “detergents”... If we manage to turn liabilities into assets more systematically, companies will have great opportunities to create value or increase margins. The way in which Hager creates value can be seen in two major categories, the tangible and the intangible. Biomimetics applies to both. At the tangible level, biomimetics has had a great impact on the creation of plastics. There is a bioplastics centre using coal in Porto Torres, Sardinia, for example. Two petrochemical plants have been converted to produce bioplastics based on local coal. As for the intangible part, it includes artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, connected objects, Smart Grids and the analysis of data, which can provide opportunities, knowledge and information with great economic value. This represents a vast pool of opportunities for Hager in the 21st century. Here too, biomimetics can teach us lessons. As I said previously about Waze, analysing electricity consumption patterns, making a Waze for electricity consumption, that remains to be done and it could create an enormous amount of value. 

Is there a link with the circular economy, the business model? Could it be a future model for us?

Absolutely. I talked about it with the idea of industrial ecosystems, food chains. The circular economy is an excellent base. To develop it, case studies are needed first. There is nothing like case studies. Don’t go too much into the theory of the circular economy, even if it’s very interesting, to “evangelise” – this is the buzzword – the ideal is to present very concrete cases where its use has created a lot of value. The start-up EnerGaïa is very interesting, with the installation of spirulina bioreactors on hotel roofs in Thailand. These bioreactors capture the CO2 coming out of the air-conditioning system. They fix the hotel’s carbon footprint twice over. Over the year, the hotel becomes a carbon fixer rather than a carbon emitter. Then they sell the spirulina directly to hotel guests in the form of cocktails, tagliatelle, etc. Here we have a real and quite magnificent example of the circular economy, with the added benefit of a short chain. All options are possible, short chain or long. In the case of electricity generation, storage, Hager has some great opportunities with renewable energy storage options. Not only in terminals or facilities but also in the way the electricity is consumed, especially in electric car chargers. 

Looking to the future: What future trends will shape biomimetics over the next 5 or 10 years?

There are micro- and macro-economic trends. Macro-economic, more and more nations realise that biodiversity can be the equivalent of an oil field. The one and only message from my Bioniria foundation is that, one day, heads of state will prefer to find biodiversity rather than oil, for purely economic reasons. An oil field represents a certain number of barrels, a certain value, a gross domestic product, a debt capacity, which is interesting for a nation. Tomorrow, we should expect the World Bank and the WTO, even the IMF, to grant loans to nations according to their biodiversity, saying “Here, the barrel of knowledge that will come out of this forest, from this river, is worth so much that we know the loan will be repaid within 15 years”. Some barrels of knowledge can be unexpected, like animal toxins. Some, like the black Mamba toxin, are worth an enormous amount, $600 for 0.1mg, or 6 billion per kilogram. These toxins are very interesting in medicine, as they are more powerful painkillers than morphine and without its addictive properties. At the micro-economic level it’s happening with individuals, in the family. The meso-economic scale concerns companies, which are the creators of value between macro- and micro-economics. For individuals, it means seeing case studies, things in their immediate environment that are bio-inspired, like Waze for example. There is nothing like receiving bio-inspired services to convince a majority of the population that nature and jobs can exist together. Being surrounded by solutions, more and more bio-inspired, ranging from the Eiffel Tower to Waze, and above all being aware of these solutions, understanding where they come from, will allow the conversion of a majority of individuals to biomimetics. At the corporate level, the logic is the same. Creating value five or ten years later, sometimes faster, shows employees day-to-day, when they provide services, when they sell catalogue products, that maybe, in a few years, they will be able to sell still more competitive products and solutions, thanks to bio-inspiration. So that’s how I see the future at the three classic economic scales, micro (with families, individuals), macro (with nations or continents) and then meso (with businesses, from SMEs to large corporations).

Companies will sell even more competitive products and solutions through bio-inspiration.

Idriss Aberkane

  29.07.19 [Interview] Biomimetics by Idriss Aberkane

Biomimetics, a science known since antiquity, inspires and fascinates Man. In the 4th century Aristotle observed nature, then in the 15th century Leonardo da Vinci imitated nature by drawing his first plans for flying machines. The latter wrote “Go take your lessons in nature, that is where our future is.” Since then, we have witnessed the birth of many innovations inspired by nature: the aeroplane, Velcro, or the new generation of wind turbines.

With Idriss Aberkane, explore biomimetics and discover how it can help companies meeting current challenges.  

 
  30.10.18 The circular economy: an economic model for the future?

On September 28, Leo Johnson, our guest expert on sustainable development, projected his audience into the future at Trend Session #7 using four different economic models - exponential technologies, linear, post-linear and circular. 

 
  02.11.17 Trend Session #5: The Blockchain revolution

In her talk, Nell Watson highlighted Blockchain's transformation potential. This covers areas that are not limited to finance or smart contracts, such as the supply chain, energy, IoT or artificial intelligence.

 
  06.02.19 Interview with Marc Halevy: adapt or disappear.

The world is changing and we need to understand why. What is happening to us and our planet, our societies, our businesses? 

 

[Interview] Biomimetics by Idriss Aberkane


The circular economy: an economic model for the future?


Trend Session #5: The Blockchain revolution


Interview with Marc Halevy: adapt or disappear.


29.07.19

[Interview] Biomimetics by Idriss Aberkane

Biomimetics, a science known since antiquity, inspires and fascinates Man. In the 4th century Aristotle observed nature, then in the 15th century Leonardo da Vinci imitated nature by drawing his first plans for flying machines. The latter wrote “Go take your lessons in nature, that is where our future is.” Since then, we have witnessed the birth of many innovations inspired by nature: the aeroplane, Velcro, or the new generation of wind turbines.

With Idriss Aberkane, explore biomimetics and discover how it can help companies meeting current challenges.  

30.10.18

The circular economy: an economic model for the future?

On September 28, Leo Johnson, our guest expert on sustainable development, projected his audience into the future at Trend Session #7 using four different economic models - exponential technologies, linear, post-linear and circular. 

02.11.17

Trend Session #5: The Blockchain revolution

In her talk, Nell Watson highlighted Blockchain's transformation potential. This covers areas that are not limited to finance or smart contracts, such as the supply chain, energy, IoT or artificial intelligence.

06.02.19

Interview with Marc Halevy: adapt or disappear.

The world is changing and we need to understand why. What is happening to us and our planet, our societies, our businesses? 


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