Jamie Miller, PhD, President, Biomimicry Frontiers

Alison Springate Guelph Smart City Office • 11 January 2021

Jamie Miller’s “aha” moment came in 2004 in a Queen’s University classroom. An engineering student and longtime nature lover, he was inspired by the realization that the natural environment can be our greatest teacher when it comes to designing products, places and systems.

"Once I was presented with the idea that nature does the design work for us, I’ve been on a journey to discover those design secrets." 

He immersed himself in the world of biomimicry, the practice of finding design solutions in biological entities and processes.

This led to him founding Biomimicry Frontiers in 2017 with a mission to let the systems in our natural environment guide new thinking towards more sustainable urban development. Their approach has supported innovative home designs in Guelph and Collingwood, and award-winning sustainable developments as far afield as India and Vietnam. In 2019, Fast Company named the company a “World Changing Idea”. This month, the company launched Biomimicry Commons, an online course to help people practically apply biomimicry to their personal and professional goals. Jamie originally contributed his expertise in the Our Food Future circular business workstream and has since also joined the Nutritious Foods workstream.

"What intrigued me about Our Food Future is that nature is our consummate circular economy. There is no waste. It breaks things down and reorganizes it into something new. This is an opportunity to apply biomimetic thinking at a systems level.”

His team is exploring the concept of patch dynamics to neighbourhoods, testing a smartphone app for people to share their backyard bounty with others, and supporting a zero waste food delivery service by using e-bikes.

"We are practically applying biomimicry to a food system and that knowledge can be transferred to other communities, ultimately to create more resilient systems. That is very exciting."

To hear more of Jamie’s story, watch this Tedx presentation from 2018.

Five questions with Jamie

  1. What’s the best advice you ever received?

    "We’re not a bad species, we’re just a very young one.” Janine Benyus, co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute.
     
  2. What was your first job, and what one thing did it teach you?

    Delivering Sears catalogues. It taught me independence.
     
  3. If you were a talk show host, who is the first guest you would book, and why?

    Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. I’d love to talk to him about building and running a sustainable business.
     
  4. What song do you always play at full volume?

    Radiohead, Idiotech
     
  5. What drink is your guiltiest pleasure?

    I can never resist a classic vanilla milkshake.
     

Connect with Jamie

Email: jamie@biomimicryfrontiers.com

or comment below.