Bio-Inspiration Essentials

February – April 2021 (exact start and end dates will be announced later)

This course introduces the field of Bio-Inspiration. The course for beginning Master’s students or professionals with an interest in this topic can be followed completely online. 

This course introduces a new field in Science and Design: Bio-Inspiration you will learn to look at nature as source of knowledge that will help to make our products, processes and systems part of nature, compatible with and supporting a transition to a circular economy instead of designing for the ‘dump’. After an overview of different Biologically Inspired approaches you will learn to define the scope and function of an innovation and write a first design-brief.

We start to elucidate the philosophical and historical roots of the concept of bio-inspiration. We will touch upon movements like: deep ecology and permaculture and illustrious predecessors such as, Leonardo da Vinci, Buckminster fuller, Viktor Schauberger, Jay Harman and Bill Mollison.
Next, we will give an overview of the main bio-inspired approaches, being: biomimicry, bionics, nature inspired design, natural capitalism, biophilia, Circular Economy and CtoC. Moreover, you will learn to see similarities and differences, by to comparing and classifying different bio-inspired approaches.
Finally, we will address Design as a discipline and process. In this way you can start to formulate and explore possibilities for innovation as a product, process or systems innovation.
You learn how to define the function you want to ‘biologize’. By doing so, you will describe the scope and hoped-for-outcome in such a way that a biologist can deliver the information as an important co-creative step in an innovation process.

This is an online course stretching over 10 weeks with a study load of approximately 7 hours per week. The course consists of web lectures as well as articles, group assignments, individual assignments, peer feedback and feedback from teachers. During the course you interact with other participants through assignments and discussions. The course is moderated actively by a professional moderator and teaching staff.

Upon completion of the course you will obtain 2.5 EC (UU students) or a certificate of completion with a study load indication of 2.5 EC.

To enroll in this course, you need to:

  • Be able to function at a Master’s level (MBA or MSc)
  • Have an affinity with Biology
  • Have a sufficient proficiency in English reading and writing

Please note: As Bio-Inspiration Essentials is an online course, you do need to have access to an internet connection in order to be able to follow lectures, complete assignments and communicate with fellow participants.


  • Are you a Master's student of Utrecht University? You can register via Osiris.
  • Are you interested in taking this course and are a Master's student at another Dutch University or you are a professional with an interest in the field of Bio-inspiration? You can send an email to

More information:
Contact J.H. Appelman via