Evolution nailed it: 2022 seed funding competition


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The competition supports interdisciplinary, creative and nature-inspired solutions to global, practical and human technological design challenges. The natural world reflects 3.8 billion years of evolving form, function and process. With it comes insights for creative solutions to problems – from the nanoscale to the global.


Three winning proposals will each receive a one-off seed fund of A$10 000 towards their research. Projects must respond to one of two categories:

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.

BioInspired design or technology innovation

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

All entries should demonstrate potential commercial application.

Eligibility and guidelines

  • 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 or 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.
  • Your entry must show a clear connection between a biological mechanism, process, pattern, or system, and the proposed solution.
  • Your entry should indicate the potential market/need.

For full eligibility and selection criteria, download the BioInspiration Seed Fund Information Pack (PDF) and BioInspiration Seed Fund FAQs (PDF)


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).

Funds cannot be used for:

  • salary top-ups to existing University staff
  • extension of University staff contracts
  • extensive overseas travel
  • retainer fees for consultants.

How to apply and contact

Application should be 5 pages maximum, and include:

  • Project title
  • 200-word pitch
  • Names and email addresses for all team members, affiliations, and indicate the Coordinating Investigator, any industry members, and existing funding – briefly describe the role and contribution of each named team member
  • Description of your bio-inspired project – overview, research aims and innovative aspects of the project, including a 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
  • Design concept images, photograph or illustrations can be included in the sections above
  • Project budget, indicating how funds will be spent, and associated justification
  • A list of all references and sources – including experts consulted.

Complete the Application Form, and submit via email to Katrina Rankin at katrina.rankin@unimelb.edu.au

If you have questions about the funding, application process, eligibility or selection criteria, email Katrina Rankin at katrina.rankin@unimelb.edu.au

Key dates

Submissions open 1 May 2021.

Submissions close midnight, 15 August, 2021. Late applications can not be accepted.

Winners will be notified by the 31 August 2021.


Image: David Clode/Unsplash

First published on 9 May 2022.

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