Annual RSA Bicentenary Medal awarded to eminent biologist and innovator Janine Benyus

Press release

London, 2 November – Janine Benyus has been announced as the winner of the 2022 RSA Bicentenary Medal for her remarkable contribution to regenerative design.

A pioneer of biomimicry, Janine has dedicated her life to encouraging sustainable innovation inspired by nature.

Biomimicry is a discipline that emulates nature’s designs and processes to create a healthier, regenerative, and more sustainable planet.

Her seminal book ‘Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature’ published in 1997 has encouraged innovators everywhere to think at the moment of creation: “How does nature solve this?”.

This premise has inspired countless ideas that draw on the genius of nature to overcome challenges in a sustainable and regenerative way. Examples include solar cells that mimic leaves, bullet trains that use aerodynamics inspired by kingfishers, and surfaces that emulate the pattern of Galapagos sharks’ skin to repel bacteria, among many others.

The RSA Bicentenary Medal is given annually in recognition of individuals who have made an outstanding contribution through their design practice towards a better world for everyone. First given in 1954, the medal is a key part of the RSA’s rich history of championing design and innovation as an enabler for creating a more rebalanced, resilient and regenerative future for all.

There will be a ceremony on 29 November 2022 to present Janine with the prestigious medal. Here, she will call on innovators everywhere to learn from nature to design products, processes and policies that support and create conditions conducive to life.

Joanna Choukeir, Director of Design & Innovation at the RSA, who will be chairing the event later this month, said “Janine’s work on biomimicry has had an astounding butterfly effect. Almost all biomimicry-inspired design is pioneering and regenerative and spans a multitude of sectors from medicine to fashion.

At the heart of regenerative design is the idea that we must begin to do things in a way that moves beyond doing less harm to our world, to doing more good. What better way to do that than to take inspiration from the natural world around us enriching us with billions of years of experience in regeneration. Janine’s work serves as an inspiration to us all.”

Andy Haldane, Chief Executive of the RSA added “Very few people define an entire new industry as Janine has. She has defined a way of innovating in harmony with nature which has inspired designers and innovators all over the world and, critically, made an important contribution to healing the story of separation between humans and nature which has resulted in our current ecological crisis,”

She truly embodies the spirit of the Bicentenary Medal, and it is an honour to be presenting her with it later this year.”

Janine Benyus, biologist, author, innovation consultant, and winner of this year’s RSA Bicentenary Medal said “All too often, we overlook the fact that we are part of an extraordinary planet surrounded by genius. The natural world has been doing so many of the things we need to do to live more sustainably and equitably, and in ways that have allowed life to flourish for billions of years.

The design challenge of our century is to remind ourselves of this genius and to learn from it to repair and renew our social and economic systems, and to bring health and regeneration to everything around us.”

I am honoured to be receiving the RSA’s Bicentenary Medal and to join the distinguished community of past Medallists who have put the good of people and planet at the heart of their design mission.”

I hope to use this Award to continue to invite innovators everywhere to take nature as their model, measure and mentor, and to work together in new partnerships for change, so that we can all live more gracefully on the earth now, and for the long term.”

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