Fitness for the future: applying biomimetics to business strategy

  • Philip Richardson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Biomimetics has traditionally meant the study of the structure and function of biological systems as models for the design and engineering of materials and machines. Some stunning results showing how biomimetics has been put into practice include Velcro, the Millennium Dome in London and the Millennium Bridge in spanning the River Tyne in Newcastle. Business biomimetics is a new term developed as part of this thesis and is proposed as an emerging field within biomimetics. It is distinct from the current use of biomimetics in that it demonstrates a strategic use in the business environment. This thesis examines how biomimetics can be used to aid business and tests whether businesses can improve their fitness for the future by applying the principles of biomimetics to the development of business strategy. Research groups at the University of Bath were used as the basis of testing this hypothesis, fitness for the future. Results were measured by comparing conventional management models with newly developed business biomimetic models. Analysis of the results demonstrated evidence to support the hypothesis that business biomimetics had a positive effect on the future fitness for the groups as measured by increases in values for esteem and the generation of intellectual capital. These are nationally recognised measures for the success of research groups. Further evidence was gathered from a number of case studies that span a range of industries and disciplines. These case studies show that results are encouraging and the ideas generated by the business biomimetic models demonstrate a richer set of ideas that inspire the managers involved. One case follows the business from previous failure through the development of business biomimetically inspired ideas, implementation and into measureable results. Subsequent improvements include increased revenue, reduced costs, improved supply chain efficiency, better customer relationships and a clearer understanding of the cross functional integration value. The delivery of a business biomimetic approach was facilitated by my invention of the Infinity Context Free Process that provided a framework to translate business problems into biological research areas and then the formulation of implementable business projects. A glimpse into the future for business biomimetics is provided in Chapter 9 that presents examples of the application of business biomimetics and shares the embryonic first steps by businesses to use nature as a guiding principle in sustainability, corporate social responsibility, growth and leadership development. The use of business biomimetics opens up the 3.8 billion years worth of nature‘s expertise and provides a new way for business leaders to innovate. The thesis concludes that when coupled with conventional management approaches, it further provides a way to design and manage businesses that are fit for now and for the future.
Date of Award1 Apr 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorWilliam Megill (Supervisor)


  • strategy
  • biometrics

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