If you’ve ever applied or considered applying for an Innovate UK or Horizon Europe grant, you’ve probably seen references to Technology Readiness Levels (TRL).
Originally established by NASA to classify the maturity of a technology undergoing development, TRLs are used across a wide range of industries to monitor the progression of R&D. TRLs are an especially useful means of evaluating the stage of a technology’s development as they offer a consistent and uniform framework, and provide a common reference point of technical maturity, which can be applied to different forms of tech. This enables a cross-disciplinary understanding of the status of R&D, distance from commercialisation and associated level of risk for the innovation. Generally, the higher the TRL, the closer to market the technology is, with greater technical and commercial risks resolved through the development process.
TRLs sit on a scale of 1 (basic concept) to 9 (the most mature technology ready for market commercialisation):
1. Basic principle observed - Scientific research has started with observations made and reported.
2. Technology concept formulated - Practical applications of the basic principles has started.
3. Experimental proof of concept - Analytical and laboratory studies have commenced, with a focus on determining the feasibility of the technology. If its practical potential has been proven, it can progress into development.
4. Technology validated in lab- Individual technology components, previously studied as single parts, are combined to test the performance of an integrated system.
5. Technology validated in relevant environment -The technology undergoes further rigorous testing in environments as close to the intended operational context as possible.
6. Technology demonstrated in relevant environment - A fully functional, and full-scale prototype is developed and operated in the operational environment to demonstrate any potential functional issues.
7. System prototype demonstration in operational environment - A working model or prototype is operated in the actual operational environment/platform to demonstrate the performance in this real-world context.
8. System complete and qualified - The final product is successfully tested and now is approved for use in the intended operational environment, whether as an individual piece of technology or integrated within a pre-existent system.
9. Actual system proven in operational environment - The final commercial end-product is operated successfully in the environment intended for its use. This is akin to the finalised working product that is sold and used.
We understand that assigning an accurate TRL classification to your project can be very challenging. The highly general definitions of the stages you see here might not correlate directly with your project’s position, or you may struggle to pinpoint one exact TRL which epitomises the maturity of your technology. At Inventya, we can help you to confirm your current TRL status and choose the right grant opportunity for you. Contact us here.