At the end of August I went down to London to see the exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci’s models and designs (


Very impressive, especially some of his flying machines – but they couldn’t possibly work, could they?

There alongside was an exhibition model of Festo Engineering’s “smartbird” which can be seen in action on YouTube:  Festo themselves have been actively pursuing biomimicry for many years and also creating an open innovation network – the Bionic Learning Network with a number of universities and design centres and companies.  This has inspired them to use the principles behind the mechanism in a bird’s beak to create a very efficient high-span, high strength gripper.

Less restrictive than mimicry is inspiration and hence to ‘bioinspired’ innovation – and for a map of the market-readiness of bioinspired  technologies see:  And see for the Da Vinci index aiming to track activity in bioinspiration.

A whole new domain to explore – and Leonardo was an early pioneer, even if he didn’t get any of his bioinspired designs to market.