Award Winners

Meet the 2022 YDC Winners

From urban flooding and stormwater management to increasing access to clean drinking water in drought-prone areas, the Biomimicry Institute’s 2021-22 Youth Design Challenge (YDC) winners have offered unique, nature-inspired ideas to solve local design challenges


First Place: Urban Floodwater Reduction System

Team Garage School Scholars took on local urban flooding with a design concept inspired by mangroves and beavers.

Second Place: Syntrichia HydroTrap

Team FA Biomimicry Challengers developed water harvesting inspired by awns of desert moss, the Texas horned lizard, and Cicada wings.

The Syntrichia Hydrotrap is portable, attaches to any reusable water bottle, and uses a unique structure to capture moisture in the air. By mimicking the awns of desert moss (Syntrichia caninervis), the design concept uses water pumps to collect water droplets through barbs and grooves.

Third Place: River 

Team Aquanauts devised a community-oriented solution to address stormwater runoff issue in their community inspired by banana leafs, seagrass, and rough cactus coral.

Stormwater runoff erodes the riverbanks, causing natural plants/trees to slowly submerge; and it drags sediment along its path causing several biodiversity issues. The River Reef is a cluster of banana leaf-like structures with a rough surface made of RPET, a bio-friendly plastic, that can be adjusted and placed at the bottom of any waterway.

International Honorable Mention: Greenification

Team Green Waves created a land trampling structure to mimic the movement of herds in a grassland to help with the process of revitalizing fresh, healthy grass.

 The solution is typically to burn fields to expedite the decaying process, however, that can cause excess carbon and methane to be released into the atmosphere. The Green Waves team from Anseong, Korea came up with an environmentally-friendly concept to solve this desertification problem. They created a land trampling structure to mimic the movement of herds in a grassland.


First Place: The Fire Forewarner

Aryan & Kovid’s Team created a device to slow the speed of wildfires and reduce damage that includes nature-inspired strategies from Banksia seed pods and Crossopteryx bark.

 The Fire Forewarner, developed by Aryan & Kovid’s Team, is a device that aims to help bring those numbers down. The design concept is a solar-powered box that contains a protected circuit board and flame retardant capsule with a high temperature glue on the lid.

Second Place: Ice Resistant Surfaces

Team BioSurfaces sought to reduce the need for harmful chemicals for the deicing of planes, inspired by mint leaf surfaces, hydrophobic Cicada wings, and pine needles.

These chemicals harm the ecosystems and contaminate the water supply. The BioSurfaces team aimed to reduce the need for harmful chemicals used and came up with the idea of Ice Resistant Surfaces. They looked to inspiration from mint leaf surfaces with their tall peaks and valleys with angles in-between to stop ice formation.

Third Place: CactiShirt

Team Interrobang created a design concept to passively cool a person in rising temperatures inspired by strategies used by desert cacti and chameleons.

Interrobang from San Jose came up with CactiShirt: a design to passively cool a person down with a shirt that incorporates microscopic folds, just like desert cacti, to increase the surface area to allow more heat to radiate. The CactiShirt is designed to also be lighter in color so that it won’t absorb as much heat as darker colors, just as chameleons can change to a lighter color when they get hot.

International Honorable Mention: The Floodulator

Team Biomimicking Bosses Association addressed local flooding by creating an underground rainwater boxfish-shaped storage tank that distributes water to the city.

Taking on the local urban flooding issue, team Biomimicking Bosses Association in London, England looked to nature for their project. The Floodulator is a system that includes a locally designed pipe on the ground level to store the rainwater underground in a boxfish-shaped tank (for water control and rigidity) that can distribute water to other areas of the city.

Past Award Winners

Learn about the concepts created from the winners and honorable mentions from past Challenges:

2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019

Browse the Biomimicry Solutions Gallery for more examples:

Meet the Winners