Zoo officials are hoping to inspire innovators with a trip to their parks. The San Diego Zoo is opening a Centre for Bioinspiration, which will help companies create robots, materials and other products that are modeled after nature, KPBS reported.
Researchers have long studied plants and animals and patterned their inventions after what they see in biology. Velcro's inventor was inspired by the way burrs attach to animal fur and hikers' socks, for example. More recently, the technology company Qualcomm developed a display for tablets and cellphones that reflects light the way iridescent butterfly wings do.
San Diego Zoo scientists will study the animals in their care, while the biomimicry center works with companies and research institutions to turn the science staff's findings into practical products, Larry Stambaugh, an entrepreneur who will lead the new center, told KPBS.
The San Diego Zoo has touted its biomimicry expertise for a few years now, Xconomy reported. In 2010, the animal institution commissioned a study from Point Loma Nazarene University that found biomimicry products could add $300 billion to the U.S. economy annually. The university also found that a bioinspiration center in San Diego could add $325 million to the regional economy, and create 2,100 jobs.