Bio-inspired separation - Formulation of an innovation model and ideation tool to boost innovation in the sector of separation technology.

A. Bianciardi*, Politecnico di Milano, Italy

Living systems in nature can count on almost 4 billion years of “R&D” in search for and deployment of solutions to all sort of challenges. R&D via trail and errors and recombination of suitable solutions. Separation is one of these challenges. Being it solids-liquid, solids-gasses, solids-solids, liquid-liquid separation, nature deploys a wide range of strategies and mechanisms adapted to different contexts and with a certain degree of robustness to changes. Separation/Filtration industry could benefit from learning from living systems; to assess and re-address R&D strategy and to innovate products either incrementally or radically.

Existing bio-inspired products on the market have been mainly generated through a solution-driven process: starting from getting intrigued by some biological strategy/mechanism carrying out a specific function, the inventor/innovator imagines a potential application of the strategy to solve a related human problem and conceive a specific design concept for a product or process. Problem-driven approaches, meaning consciously investigating in nature to look for potential solutions of a specific initial problem, are far rarer and are generally supported by Biologically-Inspired Design (BID) approaches and tools. However such BIDs are currently disperse, mainly confined in academic environment, aiming at addressing all problems but with limited field of exploration for specific challenge (repository of biological information limited and broad with consequent reduction in potential for sectoral ideation) and most importantly they have being mainly conceived without involving one of the main target group dealing with innovation: the business sector.

This research explores both innovation models and BIDs and aims at developing and testing a new framework for bio-inspired ideas generation for innovation more tailored for the business sector. The framework is composed of an innovation model provisionally named Constructive Innovation (largely based on Open Innovation models) and a sectoral-driven BID tool named Guild-Based BID. Both components synergistically interact to make the ideation process more effective. Both components have been conceived looking at how nature generates novelties and innovates. To do this a specific methodology, the Biomimicry Thinking approach developed by the Biomimicry3.8 Institute, has been used to structure the research process which foresees a scoping, discovering and creating phase.

Within the research plan this framework will be conceptualize, prepared and tested specifically for the Separation/Filtration industry. Works in progress are presented...

Session: F5 - Bio-Inspired Innovation of Separation
Day: 23 October 2019
Time: 09:00 - 10:15 h

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