Solutions to problems move only very slowly between different disciplines. Transfer can be greatly speeded up with suitable abstraction and classification of problems. Russian researchers working on the TRIZ (Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch) method for inventive problem solving have identified systematic means of transferring knowledge between different scientific and engineering disciplines. With over 1500 person years of effort behind it, TRIZ represents the biggest study of human creativity ever conducted, whose aim has been to establish a system into which all known solutions can be placed, classified in terms of function. At present, the functional classification structure covers nearly 3 000 000 of the world's successful patents and large proportions of the known physical, chemical and mathematical knowledge–base. Additional tools are the identification of factors which prevent the attainment of new technology, leading directly to a system of inventive principles which will resolve the impasse, a series of evolutionary trends of development, and to a system of methods for effecting change in a system (Su–fields). As yet, the database contains little biological knowledge despite early recognition by the instigator of TRIZ (Genrich Altshuller) that one day it should. This is illustrated by natural systems evolved for thermal stability and the maintenance of cleanliness.