Design scientist, systems theorist and futurist Melissa Sterry is recognised as a world-leading authority on the science, technology and thinking that could help build a better world. She is the founder of Bionic City, which asks “How would nature design a city?”, and her success as a multi-award winning social entrepreneur and her academic prowess set the backdrop for her profound skills as a motivational and keynote speaker.
Working at the cutting edge of sustainability innovation for over 20 years, design scientist, systems theorist and futurist Melissa Sterry is recognised as a world-leading authority on the science, technology and thinking that could help build a better world.
She is also the founder/director of Bionic City®, which asks “How would nature design a city?” and explores the potential of biomimetics, biotechnology and biology in the built environment in the now, near and far future.
She specialises in the built environment, utilities, manufacturing, engineering, design, materials, publishing, media and communications industries. Starting out as a cross-disciplinary designer working with both traditional and digital media, Melissa has launched several high-profile creative projects throughout her career. These include product design, fashion design, spatial design, graphic design, digital and the visual arts, such as the Guardian’s ‘The Future Designed Around You’ supplement, sponsored by Volvo.
She has become a high-profile futurist amongst the private and public sector globally, with over a decade of executive board-level experience in fast-growth first-to-market start-ups in the digital and creative industries (helping them explore the potential of emerging technology and its applications); in 2008, she was listed in the ‘Future 100’, the top 100 young entrepreneurs changing the face of everyday business and improving commerce’s impact on the wider world.
In 2004, she created award-winning sustainability think tank and collaborative laboratory Societás, which she ran for several years. She further co-created catalyst for rapid innovation in sustainable design, New Frontiers, the 1st Prize Winner of the Great Exhibition 2012 competition
Former Director and Head of Technology at 360 media start-up Earth 2 Hub Ltd, Melissa was a curator, writer and presenter for its platform Earth 2.0®, which aims to re-establish a harmonious relationship between humanity and nature using art, science and digital creativity.
Melissa's qualifications include a Postgraduate Certificate with Commendation in Innovation and Enterprise from Kingston University London and a Bachelor of Arts with Honours and Commendation for her final year thesis in Design Practice from the University of Salford.
Her PhD research took a look at future sustainable cities. She explored the knowledge transfer from natural technologies found in complex ecosystems in rainforests, savannahs, peat bogs and coral reefs to man-made design to enable the creation of models for urban habitats that can anticipate and prepare for environmental changes, including firestorms, earthquakes, heat waves and flooding - creating greater resilience to natural disasters and improving overall efficiency (including energy, water, food, waste).
Underway since 2010, Bionic City, a spin-off from her PhD research, has attracted a global community of interest and centres on developing city-scale resilience to extreme meteorological and geological events through mimicry of the behaviours, relationships and systems of flora and fauna species.
Regularly featured throughout the media, Melissa is published in over sixty international trade, consumer and academic titles. She has participated in wide-ranging media productions for film, television, radio and Internet, including podcasts, to-camera interviews, fly-on-the-wall documentaries, presenting, and both live and pre-recorded radio interviews. Past assignments include technology figurehead for The Guardian’s ‘The Future Designed Around You’ supplement, sponsored by Volvo.
A recipient of several national and international innovation, creativity and enterprise awards, including the Mensa Education and Research Foundation International Award for enhancing intelligence that benefits society, Melissa is a '40 over 40 Women to Watch' 2014 honoree, listed in the 'Libertine 100' 2015 - one hundred women with complex, beautiful and potentially world-changing ideas, and inductee of the Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network Hall of Fame.
Melissa has worked with a large network of scientists, activists and strategists. She is also an inductee of the Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network Hall of Fame, drew up the global comms strategy for a gender equality project, and was the recipient of the Mensa Education and Research Foundation International Award for Benefit to Society 2010 for exceptional commitment to enhancing intelligence that benefits society.
To date, Melissa has contributed as keynote speaker, panelist and/or panel chair at more than seventy leading international conferences, seminars, festivals, awards ceremonies, and product launches in regions including Europe, United Kingdom, United States and Russia. Melissa has further contributed in the capacity of editor-in-chief, guest editor, editorial board member and curator to several design, architecture, urban, arts, and style books and magazines worldwide.