Holland Award Address

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Description

Authors of RTM's Holland Award discuss their paper, "Biomimicry: Streamlining the Front End of Innovation for Environmentally Sustainable Products."

Biomimicry, defined as innovation through the emulation of biological forms, processes, patterns, and systems, is particularly valuable for its focus on solution discovery, as opposed to solution validation. GOJO Industries, Inc., used biomimicry to drive environmentally sustainable product innovation. The approach proved both efficient and effective: in comparison to a historical new product development project with a similar objective and scope, the biomimicry-driven project produced double the intellectual property and, based on a preliminary assessment of lead product concepts, at least double the energy savings for just one-sixth the resource commitment. Biomimicry also showed potential to increase the overall speed of front-end innovation. This case study suggests that biomimicry may be a highly promising approach for driving innovation, and particularly environmentally sustainable innovation, but further investigation is needed to validate the conclusions of this single case study.

Contributors

  • Thomas Andrew Marting, Facilities and Resources Management Director, GOJO Industries

    Marting directs building systems maintenance, safety, security, environmental compliance, and facility development and construction activities for multiple manufacturing, office and distribution locations. He is also responsible for driving sustainability into the operation of those facilities.

    He previously served as the Life Cycle Assessment and Sustainability Specialist for GOJO, where he worked to embed sustainable value into the new product development process by applying eco-design tools, such as lifecycle assessment, chemical hazard assessments and biomimicry. While in this role, he also worked with Clean Production Action to pilot the first Chemical Footprint Project at GOJO.

    In 2015, Marting, who holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Ohio University, was recognized by the City of Akron, Summit County and the Greater Akron Area Chamber of Commerce as a Summit of Sustainability Changemaker.

  • Emily Barbara Kennedy, Director of External Relations, Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center (BRIC), The University of Akron.

    In this role, Emily sustains and grows BRIC’s engagement with business entities and other organizations in Northeast Ohio and beyond. Emily also works with Great Lakes Biomimicry (GLBio), a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to create conditions for innovation inspired by nature, managing Innovation Services projects and instructing Professional Education workshops. Finally, Emily is CEO and co-founder of Hedgemon, a Cleveland-based startup developing hedgehog-inspired impact protection. The first target application for Hedgemon’s technology is a football helmet liner to reduce risk of concussion. Potential future applications include body armor, athletic shoe soles, child car seats, fall protection flooring, transport cases, electronics housing, automotive paneling, and airdrop pallet cushioning.

    Emily Kennedy holds a PhD in Integrated Bioscience from the University of Akron. Her doctoral dissertation, titled “Biomimicry in Industry: The Rationale for Reimagining R&D,” includes chapters published in Global Built Environment Review, Design Issues, Research-Technology Management, Creativity Research Journal, and Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials. Emily also holds a BA in International Relations with a minor in Environmental Studies from Colgate University. She is a 2016 recipient of the Creativity Foundation Legacy Prize and a Eureka Ranch–certified Innovation Engineering Black Belt.