Circular Economy 

A circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. The RECREATE Institute works to find innovative solutions to better our rural, mountain community. 


VentureWell has a Faculty Spotlight series that highlights educators within their network who are doing good work—faculty members who are catalyzing change in higher education and inspiring students to impact the world through invention. For July 2020 they highlighted own Taryn Mead, Professor of Innovation and Creativity for Sustainability and Nature-Inspired Innovation at Western Colorado University. Mead is devoted to integrating sustainable design practices into entrepreneurship and innovation.

This is the first article in a two-part series to introduce Taryn's new book “Bioinspiration in Business and Management: Innovating for Sustainability.” The article from the Biomimicry Institute outlines the process she went through to guide her research and writings. 

Western spearheads Modern Mountaineer Innovation Challenge

The Modern Mountaineer Innovation Challenge is a campus competition designed to engage students in product creation and business model design for the circular economy, reusing existing materials in the creation of a new product. 

This year's two designs are Grün Ski, a sustainable ski pole, and Recycled Raft Materials (RRM) Labs, building a better Paco Pad. Both teams created a sustainable product that combats issues in place within the outdoor recreation industry. 

This podcast between Taryn Mead and Wild Spaces tackles the huge issues that stem from the human disconnect with natural systems and learn the key attributes behind companies that achieve biomimetic innovation. In the podcast, Taryn discusses corporate strategies for sustainability, including the key to create a company built towards achieving sustainability and biomimetic innovation. 

from cast-off to startup: using the waste stream in the classroom

Colorado’s rural Gunnison Valley might not seem the most likely place to innovate around waste, but VentureWell Faculty Grants recipient, Taryn Mead, contends that the area’s wide-open spaces and strong ethic of self-reliance encourage a special resourcefulness. “There’s a culture of bootstrapping that happens in rural places,” Taryn explained, “there’s an inherent amount of innovation that happens when you don’t have experts to fix everything, and you don’t have access to every kind of material.” VentureWell's article outlines the power behind student innovations and the future of sustainability efforts.