Evolution nailed it: 2020 seed funding competition


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The 2020 Seed Funding Competition is designed for teams to develop creative, nature-inspired solutions to global, practical, human technological and design challenges. The natural world reflects 3.8 billion years of ruthless developing and refining form, function and process that offers insights for creative solutions to problems ranging from nanoscale challenges to global issues.

The challenge

The competition, which has two categories, will award A$10 000 seed funding to the top three entries.

Category 1: BioInspired improved performance or direct replacement

Demonstrate a biologically-inspired replacement for an existing synthetic object, material, process or service, or how natural materials provide superior performance.

Category 2: BioInspired design or technology innovation

Demonstrate how a biological process, mechanism or adaptation can provide a novel design or technological innovation.


  • You must be part of a team of two or more members.
  • Teams must be genuinely interdisciplinary – preference will be given to teams with representation from different academic divisions, and/or external/industry organisations.
  • Your team must appoint a Coordinating Investigator holding a salaried academic position at the University of Melbourne of at least 0.5 EFT for the duration of the project and the reporting period.
  • Your entry must involve a technology, product, service, or process that addresses a challenge related to one of the two categories.
  • The entry must show a clear connection between a biological mechanism, process, pattern, or system, and the proposed solution.
  • The entry should indicate the potential market/need.


We have three A$10 000 prizes for the most impressive entries!

The winning proposals will each receive a one-off seed fund of A$10 000 towards their research. Prizes are not restricted to one per category, but decided on their merit.

We allow substantial flexibility in how the funds are used, including prototype development, equipment purchase, attending or hosting workshops, travel costs (for conference attendance, or collaboration). However, funds cannot be used for salary top-ups to existing UoM staff, extension of UoM staff contracts, retainer fees for consultants, or extensive overseas travel by UoM staff.


The BioInspiration Hallmark Research Initiative is funded by the University of Melbourne, with the aim of transforming bio-inspired ideas into tangible outcomes, by supporting interdisciplinary collaborations between the biological and physical sciences, engineering and architectural design.


Applications must include the following items (5 page maximum):

  • Project title
  • 200-word pitch
  • Contact details and bios:
    • Names and email addresses for all team members and affiliations
    • Briefly describe the role and contribution of each named team member
    • Indicate the Coordinating Investigator
    • Detail any industry members, and existing funding.
  • Description of your bio-inspired project, including:
    • Overview
    • Research aims and innovative aspects of the project
    • Description/depiction of your biological inspiration
  • Research approach and methodology
    • Including a timeline for the project development
  • Expected outcome and impact of the project
    • Including capability to attract further funding, and potential market
  • Project budget
    • Indicate how funds will be spent, and associated justification
  • Design concept images, photograph or illustrations can be included in the sections above
  • A list of all references and sources, including experts consulted.

Teams must complete the application form below, and submit via email to Katrina Rankin, katrina.rankin@unimelb.edu.au.

Other things to know

  • One entry per Team, one Team per person.
  • Teams may include students (any level), ECRs, and/or academic staff with appropriate and complementary expertise for the proposed project.
  • Priority may be given to teams with an established industry relationship.

Key dates

Submission for the 2020 seed funding round have now closed. Awarded projects will be announced on 31 August 2020.

Forms and guidelines

Posted: 5 May 2020

Image: Hans Hollein

First published on 9 May 2022.

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