Understanding your technology readiness level

Technology readiness levels (TRL) are a standard set of definitions used to measure the maturity level of a technology.

Each technology is evaluated against a defined set of criteria for each TRL level and is assigned a TRL rating based on the project’s progress from TRL 1 (ideation stage) through to TRL 9 (the highest degree of application in its operational environment).

The measurement system was first developed by NASA in 1974, and since then has been adopted or modified by various industries as a standard for describing the maturity of technology.

It is based on the assumption that as a technology advances from basic concept to final implementation, its maturity level increases. The scale is intended to give a standard language for innovators, researchers, and investors to communicate about the readiness of a technology for commercialisation or deployment.

Descriptions of each technology readiness level

TRL 1:  Basic research

Initial scientific research has been conducted. Principles are qualitatively postulated and observed. Focus is on new discovery rather than applications.

TRL 2: Applied research

Initial practical applications are identified. Potential of material or process to solve a problem, satisfy a need, or find application is confirmed.

TRL 3: Critical function or proof of concept established

Applied research advances and early stage development begins. Studies and laboratory measurements validate analytical predictions of separate elements of the technology.

TRL 4: Lab testing/validation of alpha prototype component/process

Design, development and lab testing of components/processes. Results provide evidence that performance targets may be attainable based on projected or modelled systems.

TRL 5: Laboratory testing of integrated/semi-integrated system

System component and/or process validation is achieved in a relevant environment.

TRL 6: Prototype system verified

System/process prototype demonstration in an operational environment (beta prototype system level).

TRL 7: Integrated pilot system demonstrated

System/process prototype demonstration in an operational environment (integrated pilot system level).

TRL 8: System incorporated in commercial design

Actual system/process completed and qualified through test and demonstration (pre-commercial demonstration).

TRL 9: System proven and ready for full commercial deployment

Actual system proven through successful operations in operating environment, and ready for full commercial deployment.

Find out more about technology readiness levels