Into the Wild: Leveraging Nature’s Own Designs to Rapidly Innovate for the Future

December 10, 2020

5:30 pm



7:00 pm


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Biomimicry offers an empathetic, interconnected understanding of how life works and ultimately where we fit in. It is a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies used by species alive today. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies — new ways of living — that solve our greatest design challenges sustainably and in solidarity with all life on earth.

Our R&D cycles are slow, and the challenges we face won’t wait – we must look to the biological blueprints that have been successful over eons to launch groundbreaking ideas, faster. We don’t need to reinvent the strategies that are already here. We just need to learn how to adapt them.

We’ll talk with industry leaders who are using biomimicry to solve problems and overcome design challenges. Additionally, we will examine some of the business, legal, and policy implications of biomimicry-sourced innovations.

Presented with BiomimicryNYC

Erin Rovalo - Director Of Education at International Living Future Institute

Erin Rovalo leads the International Living Future Insititute's education team in their mission to empower an international and diverse community of practice with the skills, values, and knowledge necessary to take bold action towards a living future. In this role, she is responsible for ILFI’s educational strategy and oversees curriculum design, course development, and credentialing. Erin has 15 years of experience in sustainable innovation consulting and adult education and is a recognized expert in biomimicry and nature-inspired design methods. She is an experienced scholar and researcher holding a PhD in Design Practice and has published academic research as well as editorial articles in Fast Company, Greenbiz, and Metropolis among others. Her goal is to leverage ILFI’s education platform to connect research to practice and accelerate positive, data-driven change at the frontier of regenerative design.

In addition to her role at ILFI, Erin is Faculty Associate in the MSc Biomimicry program jointly offered by Arizona State University and Biomimicry 3.8 where she teaches Biomimicry & Design and iSites: Nature Journaling for Biomimicry. She serves on the Board of Directors for The Biomimicry Institute whose mission is to empower people to create nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet. Erin lives on Bainbridge Island in Washington and is an aspiring encaustic artist.

Chitra Dwarka - Innovation Strategist

Chitra Dwarka is a biomimicry practitioner, entrepreneur and change-maker - integrating nature-inspired innovation, technology and interdisciplinary collaboration for regenerative design, leadership, organizational and system-level transformation.  She has an extensive background in enterprise digital product development and management, program management, and building high-performance teams including prior positions at State Street Corporation and Boston Children’s Hospital.  Chitra has coordinated multi-year international student entrepreneurship engagement with the University of Massachusetts Lowell GE2 program and is partnership chair of MIT Sloan CIO Symposium.  

She is on the board of ATREE USA and has served as an advisor for Boston GreenFest for several years.  Chitra holds an MBA from Simmons Graduate School of Management, and is a candidate for MSc in Biomimicry at ASU and Biomimicry Professional Program.

Moderated by

Billy Almon - Astrobiofuturist

Billy is an Astrobiofuturist, exploring biology-inspired solutions to improve the human condition for those of us on earth and those who will travel to the stars. He speaks to multiple generations of inventors, designers, scientists and engineers on designing the future they wish to see. He has spoken to groups at: Harvard University, Rhode Island School of Design, Arizona State University, NASA, NAACP, Hidden Genius Project, Comic Con, and more.

Previously, Billy was a creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, leading efforts to develop immersive experiences and environments around the world. He is a patented inventor and holds a Masters degree in Biomimicry from Arizona State University and Bachelors degree in Architecture from Howard University.

Billy sits on the Board of Directors for the Biomimicry Institute, the world’s leading authority on nature’s solutions to design challenges.


Jim Klaiber - MITEF NYC, Chair Emeritus

Jim Klaiber is Counsel in the Intellectual Property Group of Hughes Hubbard & Reed.  His practice is focused on patent litigation, prosecution, and transactions, including telecommunication, electronic healthcare, data protection, medical device, automotive, semiconductor, and packaging technologies.  He is a former AT&T Bell Laboratories Member of Technical Staff, where his work included research and development of high speed undersea cable systems.

Jim has mechanical engineering degrees from MIT, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Michigan, and his law degree is from Fordham University Law School.  He is the current Chair of the New York City  Bar Association’s Council on Intellectual Property, and is a board member and former Chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum of New York City.


James O’Hagan- VP Business Development, Erda Energy LLC

James is a technology entrepreneur and head of business development at Erda Energy where he has championed low carbon solutions for the built environment that utilize the ground as a thermal battery. He is passionate about decarbonizing the built environment and using technology like Erda’s to shift our predominately consumptive society into one of equilibrium and symbiosis.

James received a B.A. from Goddard College

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