The motivation for BIONETS comes from emerging trends towards pervasive computing and communication environments, where myriads of networked devices with very different features will enhance our five senses, our communication and tool manipulation capabilities. The complexity of such environments will not be far from that of biological organisms, ecosystems, and socio-economic communities. Traditional communication approaches are ineffective in this context, since they fail to address several new features: a huge number of nodes including low-cost sensing/identifying devices, a wide heterogeneity in node capabilities, high node mobility, the management complexity, the possibility of exploiting spare node resources. BIONETS aims at a novel approach able to address these challenges. Nature and society exhibit many instances of systems in which large populations are able to reach efficient equilibrium states and to develop effective collaboration and survival strategies, able to work in the absence of central control and to exploit local interactions. We seek inspiration from these systems to provide a fully integrated network and service environment that scales to large amounts of heterogeneous devices, and that is able to adapt and evolve in an autonomic way. BIONETS overcomes device heterogeneity and achieves scalability via an autonomic and localized peer-to-peer communication paradigm. Services in BIONETS are also autonomic, and evolve to adapt to the surrounding environment, like living organisms evolve by natural selection. Biologically-inspired concepts permeate the network and its services, blending them together, so that the network moulds itself to the services it runs, and services, in turn, become a mirror image of the social networks of users they serve. This new paradigm breaks the barrier between service providers and users, and sets up the opportunity for "mushrooming" of spontaneous services, therefore paving the way to a service-centric ICT revolution.