Rules and FAQs


Essential Info and Deadlines

  • The Biomimicry Global Design Challenge is a team competition. You must be part of a team of 2-8 individuals in order to enter. Learn about team formation below.
  • There are two categories for entering the challenge: A student-only category (high school and university) and an open category, which anyone can enter. Judging and prizes are category-specific. See details on categories and eligibility below.
  • Submission fees:
    • Early bird rate (pay by 31 March 2017): Student $40, Open $100
    • Standard rate: Student $50, Open $120
  • Submission deadline: 30 April 2017 *EXTENDED to 4 May 2017 at 11:59:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (GMT-7)


Registering on this website (“the challenge platform") is the first step in joining the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge in any role (participant, team leader, mentor, etc). You must be registered in order to form a team, submit a mentor application, or access community tools, such as the team directory and mentor directory. When you register, you will create a challenge platform profile that other users and mentors can view. Begin the registration process here.

Team Formation

The Biomimicry Global Design Challenge is a team competition. In order to submit an entry, you must be part of a team with 2-8 members. Once you have registered as an individual, you may create a new team profile on the site or join an existing team. Creating a team profile allows you to share your information in the team directory with other registered users, add or recruit new members, and connect with mentors and advisors in our community. When you create your team profile, you will have the opportunity to indicate whether or not you are looking for new team members. You may edit your team page and team membership at any time prior to submission. Once you've registered and logged in to the site, form your team here.

If you don't want to form your own team, you can browse the team directory for existing teams that are looking to add members. Once you have found a team that interests you, send a message to the team leader by clicking the "Contact Team Leader" button on the team's profile page.

Teams are active on the challenge platform for the duration of one challenge only and must be formed anew for subsequent challenges.

For information about using the team functions on the challenge platform, please refer to the FAQ section Using the Platform, below.

Is there a fee to register?

No, there is no fee to register on the challenge website. However, if you decide to submit an entry to the challenge and compete for any of the awards, you must pay a submission fee. (See Submissions and Fees, below)

Do I have to register to begin working on the challenge?

You do not have to register to begin working on the challenge. However, by registering for the challenge, you will have the opportunity to connect with others in our design challenge community, including mentors and potential teammates. Ultimately, you will have to register for the challenge in order to submit a design and compete for awards.

What is the required team size?

Teams that choose to submit a design must include two to eight team members.

Can I register for the challenge as an individual?

Yes, you can register for the challenge and access our resources as an individual. However, in order to submit, you will have to either lead a team and add/recruit teammates or become a member of an existing team.

Can I submit to the challenge as an individual?

No, you may not submit to the challenge as an individual. 

Can I participate on more than one team?

No, you can only participate on one team for the challenge, regardless of category.

How does our team add new members to our team profile?

Please refer to the FAQ section on Using the Platform, below.

The team profile I created for the last challenge is gone from the Team Directory. What happened?

Teams are archived after each challenge. You must form a new team on the platform for each challenge.

Basic Participant Eligibility

The Biomimicry Global Design Challenge is open to teams of independent professionals, college and university students, and high school students (equivalent to grades 9-12 in the U.S.) anywhere in the world. Some middle school students will be allowed to submit on a case-by-case basis. Entries from individuals will not be considered. Any team with a parent organization or entity that has generated more than $1 million in revenue during the past calendar year is not eligible to participate. Individuals who are associated with or employed by such entities are eligible to participate, provided the parent entity or its subsidiaries will not have ownership over any intellectual property being developed by the team. See category-specific eligibility criteria below.

Design Concept Eligibility

All entries in both categories must involve a technology, product, service, or process that addresses a challenge related to the current theme. The entry must show a clear connection between a biological mechanism, process, pattern, or system, and the technological solution submitted; i.e., the solution must emulate a natural model(s). Entries must describe an entirely new solution and represent a given team's unique work and intellectual property. If your project has already generated commercial revenues exceeding $100,000, it is not eligible for entry in either category.

Open Category Details

The open category is open to teams of independent professionals, students, or combinations thereof. We are looking for entrepreneurial teams that have an interest in taking their ideas beyond the concept phase, with our support. Entries in this category must demonstrate a higher degree of feasibility and market potential than entries in the student category. Finalists in the Open category are eligible to join the Biomimicry Accelerator program and compete for the $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize™.

Student Category Details

The student category is for high school and university student-only teams that wish to focus on learning and applying biomimicry, rather than advancing their idea beyond the design concept phase. Entries in this category are not expected to show as high a degree of resolution and feasibility as entries in the open category.

The Student category is open to high school students (equivalent of grades 9-12 in the U.S.) and college and university students under the age of 35, including associate degree students, undergraduates, MBAs, MD candidates, JD candidates, other masters degree candidates, and PhD candidates. Post-docs and university students older than 35 must submit in the Open category. Students must be enrolled at the time of submission or have graduated within 6 months of the submission deadline.

I am a student, but I am working on a team with my teacher/professor/parent/other professionals. Can my team submit to the Student category?

No. Any student team that has work being done by an adult who is not a student must submit in the Open category. However, faculty and mentors can work with student teams in advisory roles without jeopardizing a team's ability to submit to the Student category.

Submission Method

Submissions are accepted electronically via the Challenge platform only. We do not accept submissions by post mail or any other method.

Submission Form

All entries must be submitted via the online entry form. In order to gain access to the submission form, a team must be created. Once a team is created on the Challenge platform, and if the submission period is open, the team leader can access the submission form via his/her team profile, from the Challenge page, or under his/her “My Activities" menu. (My Activities is accessed by clicking on the user icon at the top of the site after logging in). Note: Only the team leader can begin the submission process.

Fees and Payment Method

Entry fees are due at the beginning of the submission process. The team leader will be prompted to pay the fee when s/he begins a submission draft. Payment is accepted by credit card (Visa or MasterCard) or via PayPal. An early bird discount is offered to teams that initiate the submission process and pay the fee in advance. Regardless of when you pay, your team will have until the submission deadline to finalize your entry and formally submit it.

  • Early bird fees (pay by 31 March 2017): open category $100, student category $40.
  • Standard fees: open category $120, student category $50.

Submission Requirements

Detailed submission requirements and judging criteria can be viewed on the Challenge page. Incomplete submissions will not be considered. We strongly recommend that you review the judging criteria carefully before submitting your entry.

Will late entries be considered?

The submission platform will not accept late entries. We recommend submitting your materials at least a day in advance of the deadline in order to avoid last minute issues with bandwidth or other technical glitches.

Can a team submit more than one entry?

No, teams may submit only one entry per team.

Mentor Directory

While working with a mentor or advisor is not required, we strongly encourage that teams do so and offer a mentor directory as a resource to help with matchmaking. The mentor directory contains information about mentors who have made themselves available to advise teams participating in the Challenge. The directory is only visible to those who are logged in to the challenge platform.

What do mentors do?

Mentors support teams in many ways, including answering general questions about biomimicry, supporting teams' design processes, answering biological and technical questions, and providing business planning advice.

What is the time commitment to be a mentor? 

The time commitment is flexible. Mentors can indicate in their profile how many teams they are willing to assist and in what ways.

I am interested in sharing my expertise. How do I become a mentor?

Once you register on the Challenge site, fill out an application and complete your mentor profile. The application form can be accessed from the Mentors page. Once your application is approved, your profile will then appear in the mentor directory, where teams can reach out to you for help.

How can I update my profile in the Mentor Directory?

Log into the platform and click on your user icon in the upper right corner of the website. Select “My Activities" and scroll down to “My Mentor Profile". Click the edit button under “Actions" and you will be taken to a page on which you can edit your profile information.

If I serve in an advisory role (as faculty or mentor, e.g.), can I advise more than one team?


Is my team required to have a mentor or advisor?

No, but we highly recommend it.

How can my team contact mentors in the Directory ?

From the mentor's profile, click the "Request an Introduction" button and fill out the message box. Your message will be forwarded to the mentor for consideration. If they are interested and able to work with your team, they will contact you directly.

When is my personal profile visible and who can see it?

Your personal profile is accessible from your team profile and can be viewed only by other registered users on the platform. If you send a contact request to a team you are interested in joining, your profile will also be visible to that team's leader and administrator.

How do I update my personal profile?

After logging in, click on your user icon in the upper right corner of the website. Select “My Profile" and you will be taken to a page where you can edit your profile information.

How do I make changes to my team profile?

Only the team leader and members designated as "admins" may edit the team profile. After logging in, visit your team's profile in the team directory. Select the "edit" button. Team leaders can also manage their team from the “My Activities" menu, which is accessed from the user icon at the top right corner of the website.

How does our team add new members to our team profile?

Once a team has been created, the team leader can begin adding team members. After logging in, visit your team's profile in the directory. Click the "Invite Members" button. If the team member you wish to add has already registered on the platform, find and invite them by typing their name in the search bar that appears. Or, if your teammate is not yet registered, enter their email address to send an invitation with information about how to register and join your team. Invited members must confirm they accept the invitation before they will appear in the team profile.

What is the difference between the team leader, admin, and member roles?

The platform allows teams to share responsibility for managing their team profile. The person who creates the team profile automatically becomes the team leader, and is the only team member who can manage member roles, start the submission process, pay the fee, and formally submit the entry. Once the team is created, the team leader can begin adding members. There are two options for team member roles: admin and member. Admins can edit the team profile, add new team members, and view the submission draft. Members can only view the draft.

How do I connect with mentors?

Browse the mentor directory to learn about mentors who may be available to advise you on your project. If you identify someone you would like to contact, you can request an introduction using the button on the mentors profile. Fill out the form with your message describing your interest in the mentor, where your team is in the design process, and what help you are looking for (e.g. understanding biology, business planning, etc.) These messages are received by Institute staff, who will forward your request to the mentor. If the mentor is able to work with you, they will contact you directly.

How do I access the submission form?

Once a team is created on the Challenge platform, and if the submission period is open, the team leader can access the form via his/her team profile or the “My Activities" menu, which is accessed by clicking on the user icon at the top of the site after logging in. Payment of the submission fee is required in order to access the submission form.

Can I change my email settings?

As a registered user on the challenge platform you will automatically receive certain updates via email. You cannot unsubscribe from these messages without deleting your account.

How do change my password or delete my account?

After logging in, click on your user icon in the upper right corner of the website. Select “Account Settings" and complete the forms.

Will my team's intellectual property be protected?

Entrants retain ownership of all ideas and materials/images submitted to the challenge and only the BGDC program staff and the judging panelists will have access to complete entry materials. However, the Biomimicry Institute retains the right to reproduce and distribute materials submitted for public view (e.g. images, overview text, and video). With your permission, we may also share all or portions of your presentation PDF for educational purposes. Entering teams must recognize that any information submitted as part of the Challenge is at risk of inadvertent public disclosure. The organizers, judges, and other affiliates of the Challenge will NOT enter into nondisclosure agreements with entering teams.

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