2024 Cohorts Will Join 39 Graduate Startups Already Working to Address the World's Largest Environmental and Social Challenges through Nature-Inspired Solutions


MISSOULA, Mont., March 11, 2024 -- Biomimicry Institute, a not-for-profit organization co-founded by Janine Benyus in 2005 to empower nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet, today opens applications for its 2024 Ray of Hope Accelerator. This unique founder-focused program aims to propel nature-inspired startups towards marketplace growth with robust training, networking opportunities, and $15,000 in non-dilutive funding. Applications are due May 3, 2024. 



Building on the success of the previous four years and 39 supported startups, the Ray of Hope Accelerator program is looking to identify the next ten leading nature-inspired startups. Those selected will be immersed in a six-month cohort program that provides more than $50,000 worth of in-kind services that aim to provide in-depth support and training for companies seeking to bring their ideas to commercialization. The program enhances participants' visibility through science-based storytelling, as well as provides access to a wide range of corporate and investment leaders. The cohort is open to Pre-Seed to Series A stage companies world-wide and will commence with an in-person nature retreat where participants develop skills around community building, leadership, and cultivating a nature-inspired ethos.


"As we embark on our fifth year of the Ray of Hope program, we are pleased to share that all of our previous participating startups are thriving," said Jared Yarnall-Schane, Director of Innovation at the Biomimicry Institute. "Graduate companies have raised more than $100M cumulatively in funding and are actively working to address systemic climate issues such as sea-level rise and plastic pollution. Building on this success, we are thrilled to launch an updated version of the program this year that provides more robust training and financial support to nature-inspired solutions."


The Ray of Hope Accelerator, in partnership with founding sponsor The Ray C. Anderson Foundation, is not industry, technology, or geography specific. Chosen cohorts are connected by a shared drive to address at least one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Any startup working on nature-inspired solutions, service, or technology with a positive environmental or social benefit may apply. The Biomimicry Institute is particularly interested in solutions that address the urgent need to regenerate nature, reduce the impacts of climate change and eliminate the current 'take, make, waste' paradigm.


"We are proud of our partnership with the Biomimicry Institute and of their efforts to support and scale the work of nature-inspired changemakers," said Christoph Hohmann, Global Head of Brand Communications at Bentley Motors and Head of The Bentley Environmental Foundation. "Our partnership is a great example of the Bentley Environmental Foundation's funding plus approach, in which we are working with mission-aligned organizations to create environmental change, also within Bentley itself. We hope this is a model other companies will follow in the future."


Brent Cutcliffe, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer of New Iridium, a 2021 alumni of the Ray of Hope program adds, "not only was our startup elevated by the process, but being in the company of other viable nature-inspired solutions empowered us to know that collectively we are making serious progress against seemingly intractable problems."


Past participants of the Ray of Hope program have secured additional funding, built greater awareness of their work through media, attained paid proof-of-concept pilot contracts with major corporations, and increased sales as a result of the program's extensive network. Previous cohorts comprised companies from 15 different countries, were 40% female founders, and included award-winning startups like Sparxell (UK, 2023) GreenPod Labs (India, 2022), Spintex Engineering (UK, 2021), ECOncrete Tech (Israel, 2020). To see a full list of the nearly 40 nature-inspired startups that have completed the Ray of Hope Accelerator program, click here.


For more information on how to apply, visit biomimicry.org/RayofHopePrize.


About the Biomimicry Institute 

The Biomimicry Institute is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 2006 that empowers people to seek nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet. To advance the solution process, the Institute offers AskNature.org, the largest free, living database of biological strategies for sustainable innovation. The organization also offers biomimicry curriculum and educator resources, including the Youth Design Challenge, a multidisciplinary, project-based challenge that teaches students to solve problems through biomimicry; a Biomimicry Launchpad incubator program; and the Ray of Hope Accelerator supports nature-inspired startups to scale systemic solutions to the world's most pressing environmental challenges. Most recently, the Institute launched a new collaborative initiative called Design for Transformation which will pilot technologies that convert discarded clothes and textiles into biocompatible raw materials. For more information, visit biomimicry.org.


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