Master in Bio Inspired Innovation


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Bio-inspired design and science are used for innovations that support a transition to a sustainable, circular economy. The Master’s programme Bio-Inspired Innovation (BII) offers a unique blend of knowledge and skill training that will support the search for and development of circular business-models and bio-inspired research & innovations.

Scientist at the Design Table

We live in a society that places great trust in technology and science to solve our problems and fulfil our needs. However, science and technology alone cannot provide us with a society that nourishes rather than destroys its surroundings. We need to switch to a more circular society. We will introduce you to the grand challenges that need to be tackled to become a circular society and to the Life’s Principles that are of use in the scoping and evaluation design phases of a biomimicry design cycle.

Bio-Inspired Innovation (BII) is aimed at students with a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences, who are interested in research and want to innovate services, products, production systems, and design based on principles that have evolved in nature. You will be the professional that contributes to the transition to a circular economy with Bio-Inspired Innovations. As the biologist at the design table, you will address questions like 'how do plants absorb fine particles? What can we learn from blood vessel systems in relationship to crowd control and solutions for traffic jams? Or how can we make a building function as a living organism or ecosystem?

Innovation, Research, and Design

This Master’s programme equips you with research, design and collaborative skills that will make you a bio-inspired expert. BII builds on the excellent research at the Faculty of Science and links research findings to solve societal and business challenges. The first year is research-based, while the second year focuses on the use of research knowledge in innovation.

First year

The first year is research-based, you will be part of an advanced research environment that links to your area of expertise (Major Research Project). You learn to set up and execute (fundamental) research and discuss and report its outcomes. You will also learn about multidisciplinary innovation, collaborative business modelling and joint design.

Second year

The second year focuses on the use of research knowledge in innovation. You will combine innovation and research, and will perform a minor internship (Minor Research Project), preferably outside the university. This internship is preceded by a course in Integrative Bio-Inspired Design.

Potential Research Projects

Examples of Minor Research Projects include exploring the use of microbes to clean silver.

Acidithiobaccilus ferrooxidans is a bacterium which is commonly found in mines and can be used for bioleaching to harvest energy from metal sulfides. These bacteria can be used to clean the silver (sulfide) from the centrepiece by Wenzel Jamnitzer (1549, Rijksmuseum).

Other projects include using Azolla as next-generation cash crops. Azolla can reduce today's atmospheric concentrations of CO2, produce livestock feed, food and serve as a bio-fertiliser and biofuel. Furthermore, other projects aim to increase food production and change the set up how consumers choose their fresh attributes (the supermarket as a living organism).

Interest in Bio-Inspired Innovation

Although BII is a relatively new Master's programme, it has already attracted a lot of interest. For example, the programme appeared in an item on Dutch television. See the press release with the item (in Dutch). Our Master's student Brigit van Brenk won the 'Changemaker Challenge' with her research on using fungi to break down waste in wastewater. Furthermore, the fact that a team of 1st year BII students (2017) have made it to the finals of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge attracted a lot of attention as well.

Career Prospects

This Master’s programme prepares you to become a highly qualified professional, who is able to function in an academic, business or another organisational environment. You will be a change-agent and resource professional for organisations that aim to be part of a sustainable society with a guaranteed food supply. We actively support your efforts to become a bio-inspired circular economy expert, innovator entrepreneur, scientist or consultant.

Academic Careers

George Whitesides, a biochemist, indicates that bio-inspiration opens up the doors to an academic career across disciplines. This new interdisciplinary field of science is expected to result in breakthrough discoveries that are of use to business and society in the short and long term.

Professional Careers

Bio-Inspired Innovation trains you to apply and connect bio-inspired research to (non-) governmental organisations and/or businesses. Graduates will be employed by organisations ranging from the WWF to a ministry. Possible jobs include working as a circular economy consultant at Royal Haskoning or as a bio-inspired product developer and designer at Lune.

Professionals on Bio-Inspired Innovation >

For International Students

Learning Dutch

If you want to find a job or internship in the Netherlands, knowing Dutch will get you places. Even if you work within an international organisation, knowing at least some Dutch is always a benefit and in some cases even a requirement. In order to learn Dutch, free language websites such as or can get you started or take a look at the Dutch courses offered by Babel. As a student from Utrecht University, you receive a 25% discount on their course offerings.

After graduation

If you want to stay in the Netherlands after your graduation, you can apply for the ‘residence permit orientation year’. This permit can be submitted within 3 years after completing your studies and allows you unlimited working rights (hence: a work permit –TWV- is not required). For an overview of the conditions that apply for this permit, please visit the IND website.

Last updated May 2020

About the School

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of int ... Read More

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of international rankings, and member of the renowned European League of Research Universities. Read less