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  • Nicole Miller on Nature and Inspired Innovation

    22 Sep 2020
  • Nicole Miller, Managing Director of Biomimicry 3.8, explains biomimicry and how mirroring nature’s designs can lead to innovative and sustainable solutions in the development products and places.

    Hosted by Jeff Kavanaugh, VP and Head of the Infosys Knowledge Institute.

    “We are reconnecting people to nature so that nature is no longer just seen as this resource that we can extract from, but as a mentor and a resource that we can learn from.”

    - Nicole Miller


Show Notes

  • 00:05

    Jeff introduces biomimicry

  • 00:21

    As managing director of Biomimicry 3.8, you described biomimicry as the conscious emulation of nature's genius. Can you share a particularly poignant example of this?

  • 02:10

    Jeff introduces Nicole

  • 03:48

    What is the perennial question for you? Certainly for me, what is biomimicry?

  • 05:39

    What's one of your favorite examples that you took to a business executive and they had an “aha” moment and changed what they were doing?

  • 08:31

    [Aligning people with common interests] is good because you get them to metaphorically be on the same side of the desk negotiating, it's a little bit easier, right?

  • 09:28

    How has your understanding of sustainability changed over time and how can companies get in front of it in their innovation process?

  • 11:13

    If you don't design or act in a way that allows your species, your habitat to do this in the future, you're not successful and you'll go extinct.” So, how do you relate that to where we are currently globally and with people in general mindsets?

  • 12:09

    You mentioned COVID-19 so I'll just go straight there. How has that impacted the business case for Biomimicry 3.8? And what your message and how can companies adapt to this new corporate habitat and avoid extinction?

  • 13:36

    Last month we spoke with John Elkington, the originator of the “triple bottom line” concept of people, planet, and profit. John described the triple bottom line as a genetic code, a triple helix of change for tomorrow's capitalism. What role does biomimicry play in the triple bottom line in this change?

  • 15:04

    What concrete steps can an executive take, not for this thing to be a check the box ESG initiative but to be at the center of their business?

  • 16:26

    John Elkington called the 2020s the decade of exponential progress, exponential decade. Do you think we'll see exponential progress, and if so, where do you think it will come from?

  • 18:16

    How do you think biomimicry will support the development of smart buildings and smart cities?

  • 20:20

    That all sounds great and if we were going out building a city from scratch and building brand new greenfield area sounds exciting, difficult but exciting, what about for the 90 plus percent in the world, yeah, it was already built, how can biomimicry principles improve upon these brownfield environments?

  • 21:51

    How can biomimicry design be applied to the digital world and how do you see technologies like AI fitting into this?

  • 23:22

    You're thinking then a lot about the next generation, what is what you're doing and all this mean for a young person looking to make their way in the 21st century?

  • 24:59

    You've called mycelium your favorite organism? What is it and why is it your favorite?

  • 26:04

    What are the books or people that stand out as significant influences for you?

  • 27:57

    What online resources do you recommend either your own sites or others for further learning?

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller serves as the managing director of Biomimicry 3.8, a certified BCorp and social enterprise dedicated to helping change-makers create a more sustainable world by emulating nature’s designs and core principles. Since joining the company in 2012 Nicole’s leadership has played a pivotal role in the growth and success of the company’s core services.

Nicole’s background in Corporate Sustainability and global supply chain development support her work to bring biological intelligence-based innovation solutions to a wide range of global clients dedicated to innovation and sustainability. As managing director, she also drives internal strategy, projects and initiatives that support the legacy of Biomimicry 3.8, with her primary goal to create a 100-year company. She also works closely with key strategic partners and clients to get biomimicry into the hands of the designers, innovators, and changemakers that shape our world. This has included work with Google, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Target, Interface, Estee Lauder and other leading Fortune 100 innovators and sustainability leaders.

Prior to joining Biomimicry 3.8, Nicole was the Managing Director of the Montana World Trade Center, where the key focus of her work increased global business opportunities for Montana companies by developing and implementing programs to accelerate the transformation of companies into globally recognized, export-oriented, and innovation-driven businesses. Prior to joining MWTC, Nicole was Director of International Sourcing for, where she built the global sourcing division from scratch. That division quickly became integral to the company, contributing to more than $35 million in sales. Through her work in sourcing, Nicole became dedicated to improving the company’s social and environmental compliance standards and created an internal standard to reduce impacts of the company’s supply chain and private label products and provide transparency to customers.

Nicole holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Montana. She is a Fellow of Columbia University’s American Assembly Next Generation Project—a review of U.S. Global Policy and the Future of International Institutions. Nicole has been included in feature stories in The Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine, as well as profiled in Digital IQ Magazine. She has received the Utah Business “30 under 30” Award for her work at and was recently awarded “20 under 40” by the Missoulian for her work at Biomimicry 3.8.

In 2010, Nicole was appointed to the U.S. Industry Trade Advisory Committee for Small and Minority-owned Businesses, a public-private partnership jointly managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of United States Trade Representative that engages business leaders in formulating U.S. trade policy. Nicole has served as President and Vice President on the Board of Directors for Montana Community Development Corporation and the University of Montana School of Business Administration, she has also served on the Board of Directors for Watson’s Children’s Shelter. She currently serves on the advisory board for the Biomimicry Center at Arizona State University.

Biomimicry’s Life's Principles diagram - design patterns found in nature that support "success"