Green sat down with Jared Yarnall-Schane of the Biomimicry Institute to discuss the intersection of biology and technology, and how it leads to a more sustainable planet. Let’s get to know Jared better and see where he drew his inspiration from.
Jared brought his entrepreneurial background & startup coaching experience to the Biomimicry Institute to lead the LaunchPad program, with a goal of commercializing biomimicry innovations. Before joining the Institute, Jared developed and ran programs with Penn State University’s incubator and accelerator programs and was the Program Director of Thought For Food. He has directly worked with hundreds of social impact startups from around the world, helping them to secure a combined $25+ million in funding along the way.
Jared, thank you for being here. Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I am the Entrepreneurship Director for the Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit dedicated to promoting nature-inspired design. At the Institute we work to support entrepreneurs as they commercialize biomimetic innovations that are addressing major climate and environmental issues.
Before joining the Institute, I ran startup training programs with Penn State University’s incubator and accelerator programs and was the Program Director of Thought For Food, a global community of food and agriculture entrepreneurs. I also created the open-source startup training toolkit Startup Guts, was an initial founding member of the AgTech company GreenTowers, and started a small food preservation company in rural Kenya.
What is a fun fact about you?
I grew up on a summer camp in the Pocono Mountains, which I credit for my love of people and planet.
Why do you think Biology and Technology is such an important topic today?
In biology class you learn about carrying capacity, or the number of living organisms that a region can support without environmental degradation. Humans are a part of nature, and we governed by this law just like every other species. We are at a unique inflection point in time, in which we have the capability to understand the carrying capacity on a planetary level.
We are finally returning to the question of how can we ensure a safe, healthy, and just world not only for our current generation, but for generations that will follow. We have much to learn from plants and animals about how to create materials, chemistry, and structures that support and regenerate the environment, while leaving a hospitable home for generations to come.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
Biomimicry is the intersection of biology and technology. At the moment, there is a ton of traction of novel biotech and synthetic biology solutions that are addressing sustainability challenges. While this work is incredibly important and revolutionary, biomimicry encourages us not to look at nature as a tool and something to extract from, but as something to learn from. For example, how does nature create color? Or how does nature produce energy? By asking these questions, we are seeing a new type of company come into existence.
Did you know that many of the vibrant colors we see, such as the brilliant blue and green of peacock feathers, are generated via light wave reflection, rather than pigments or dyes? If we take this approach to painting our cars or coloring our clothes, what sort of environmental impact will that have? I predict we will see many more companies like Cypris Materials, one of the first to create structural color paint, within the next ten years. We simply have the tools, understanding, and finances in place start brining biomimicry technology into the world!
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Take time to immerse yourself in nature. It is important for us to remember that we are not the pinnacle of evolution, but part of a continuously evolving world. Once we remember that, we realize how much we may learn from the world around us.
Jared, thank you for taking the time to share your story with us today.
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