The Ray of Hope Prize® is a $100,000 prize competition that provides top biomimicry startups with connections, media exposure, and funding to accelerate their path to commercial success.

Nature has evolved strategies to address many of the challenges humans face today. By looking to nature for inspiration, innovators from all sectors are bringing incredible new technologies to life and to market. 

Apply now and join those that are building successful biomimicry businesses, accelerating the development and commercialization of biomimicry startup innovations, and becoming the next generation of sustainability entrepreneurs.


Why Apply?

Do you have a product, service, or technology that helps create a sustainable, resilient future? The Ray of Hope Prize competition can bring your startup to the next level. 

Competitors are eligible to receive the $100,000 prize, along with media exposure to major press outlets (past Ray of Hope Prize winners from the Launchpad have had their stories shared on CBS, the BBC, and PBS.)  Benefits include pitch training, product refinement, and storytelling enhancement. Participants also gain access to a growing community of biomimicry designers and entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and potential investors.


The Ray of Hope Prize application process is now closed, but we encourage you to join our newsletter list to stay up to date on the innovations emerging from this year’s competition and how to apply for next year’s cycle.

2019 Ray of Hope Prize

At the end of each competition cycle, one team is awarded the $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize, in partnership with the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. This prize is awarded to the most viable prototype that embodies the radical design principles of biomimicry and Ray’s legacy of sustainable success.

2019 winner: $100,000

WatchTower Robotics

Boston, Massachusetts

Watchtower uses a next-generation, flexible robot to inspect water pipes, locating leaks for utilities to easily fix. The strategy is to build a robot that is like a squid or gecko; it leaves behind a piece at every leak it finds in an underground water pipe. This piece has a beacon effect that allows maintenance crews to locate it with wireless scanners from above ground, pinpoint the location of the leaks, and know where to dig and fix them.

Past Years’ Winners

2019 Second Place Prize: $25,000

Aruga Technologies

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Aruga has developed a platform technology that uses a self-cleaning mechanism found throughout nature: dynamic wrinkling. Their first product is a vascular implant that doubles traditional implant lifetime by keeping blood clot buildup from depositing on the blood contacting surface. They are exploring how their technology may be applied across industrial surfaces that frequently experience fouling, such as marine and water infrastructure.

2018 ray of hope prize winner: $100,000

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Inspired by winged seeds, bromeliads, and forest leaf litter, Nucleário offers a smarter, cheaper, and faster approach for large-scale forest restoration by providing innovative products proven to reduce seedling maintenance. The Nucleário Planting System eliminates the need for irrigation, herbicides, and pesticides.

2018 second place prize: $25,000


Mexico City, Mexico

The BioThermosmart team applied lessons from animals’ circulatory systems to develop a heating, ventilation, and cooling system for buildings that harvests waste heat and cycles it back into the system, reducing costs, fossil fuel emissions, and energy.



Croatia, United States, Germany

NexLoop designs biomimetic products and systems to collect and integrate in situ atmospheric water sources into sustainable and affordable urban food production. The design is a modular, scalable building envelope system for food production applications, such as greenhouses, indoor vertical farms, and container farms. The system combines multiple functions from champion species like spiders, ice plants, and mycorrhizal fungi, to capture, filter, store, and distribution water for food growing.



Quillota, Chile

A team from the Ceres Regional Center for Fruit and Vegetable Innovation in Chile designed a new way of protecting growing seedlings that emulates the way hardy “nurse” plants establish themselves in degraded soils and pave the way for new plant species to grow. The LifePatch returns vitality to the soil by improving conditions for seedlings and exposing them to a mix of nutrients, is fabricated with natural fibers, and biodegrades after one season. With 25% of the world’s soils degraded, this startup innovation provides a way to grow and protect new plants and ensure that the soil can be regenerated to feed our growing population.

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