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Learning from Nature: where science meets sustainability

Bio inspired design and science are used for innovations that support a transition to a sustainable, circular economy. The Master’s programme Bio Inspired Innovation (BII) offers a unique blend of knowledge and skill training that will support the search for and development of circular business-models and bio inspired research & innovations.

Scientist at the design table 

We live in a society that places great trust in technology and science to solve our problems and fulfill our needs. However, science and technology alone cannot provide us with a society that nourishes rather than destroys its surroundings. We need to switch to a more circular society. We will introduce you to the grand challenges that need to be tackled to become a circular society and to the Life’s Principles that are of use in the scoping and evaluation design phases of a biomimicry design cycle.

Bio Inspired Innovation (BII) is aimed at students with a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences, who are interested in research and want to innovate services, products, production systems and design based on principles that have evolved in nature. You will be the professional that contributes to the transition to a circular economy with Bio Inspired Innovations. As the biologist at the design table, you will address questions like 'how do plants absorb fine particles? What can we learn from blood vessel systems in relationship to crowd control and solutions for traffic jams? What can we learn from compound eyes of insects to reduce light pollution? Or how can we make a building function like a living organism or ecosystem?

Working like an ecosystem and sharing lessons from nature is crucial in today's challenging times.

Innovation, research and design

This Master’s programme equips you with research, design and collaborative skills that will make you a bio inspired expert. BII builds on the excellent research at the Faculty of Science and links research findings to solve societal and business challenges. The first year is research based, while the second year focuses on the use of research knowledge in innovation.

First year
The first year is research based, you will be part of an advanced research environment that links to your area of expertise within life sciences (Major Research Project). You learn to set up and execute (fundamental) research, and discuss and report its outcomes. You will also learn about multidisciplinary innovation, collaborative business modelling and joint design.

Second year
The second year focuses on the use of research knowledge in innovation. You will combine innovation and research in a project of the mandatory course Integrative Bio Inspired Design, as well as in the General Research Profile. Alternatively, you may choose a Profile that deepens your education in a specific field.

Potential General Research Profiles 

Examples of General Research Profiles include exploring the use of microbes to clean silver.

Acidithiobaccilus ferrooxidans is a bacterium which is commonly found in mines, and can be used for bioleaching to harvest energy from metal sulfides. These bacteria can be used to clean the silver (sulfide) from the centerpiece by Wenzel Jamnitzer (1549, Rijksmuseum).

Other projects include using Azolla as next-generation cash crops. Azolla can reduce today's atmospheric concentrations of CO2, produce livestock feed, food and serve as a bio fertilizer and biofuel. Furthermore, other projects aim to increase food production and change the set up how consumerschoose their fresh attributes (the supermarket as living organism).

Interest in Bio Inspired Innovation

Although BII is a relatively new Master's programme, it has already attracted a lot of interest. For example, the programme appeared in an item on Dutch television. See the press release with the item (in Dutch). Our Master's student Brigit van Brenk won the 'Changemaker Challenge' with her research on using fungi to breakdown waste in wastewater. Furthermore, the fact that over the last years, several teams of BII students (2018, 2019, 2020) have made it to the finals of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge attracted a lot of attention as well. More student-projects and outcomes of challenges can be found here.


Degree: This Master's programme is officially registered under its name in the Central Register of Higher Education Study Programmes
  • Title: MSc
  • Master's degree in: Biosciences
  • Programme: Bio Inspired Innovation
Accredited by the NVAO
Croho code:
Language of instruction:
Part- or full-time status:
2 years
Credits: 60 credits equals one year full-time study load (European Credit Transfer System, ECTS)
Start of studies:
Application deadline:
  • Dutch & EU/EEA students: 1 April
  • Non-EU/EEA students: 1 April
Tuition fees:
Graduate school:
Life Sciences