21.10.21 Know-how

What is TRL?

What does TRL mean and what is it?

TRL means Technology Readiness Level and it’s a type of measurement system used to assess the maturity level of a particular technology. Technology projects are assessed against the scope for each technology level before being assigned a TRL rating.

There are 9 different levels with TRL 1 being the lowest and TRL 9 being the highest.

Fun fact: NASA originally created it to assess whether their emerging technology was suitable for space exploration.

How the TRL scale is used in R&D grant funding


R&D grant funds support the development of novel technologies from TRL 1 (Basic Principle Observed) through to TRL 9 (Actual Technology Proven in Operational Environment). Funding beyond TRL 9 is then the realm of business growth grants, debt or private investment.

The maturity of your project can impact how much grant funding money you’re eligible for, so it’s important to determine your project’s TRL to match the right fund to your project.

R&D grant funds are generally divided into three categories defined by the technology readiness levels:

  • TRL 1-3 = Fundamental Research
  • TRL 4-6 = Industrial Research
  • TRL 7-9 = Experimental Development

As a novel technology progresses through these three stages (from TRL 1 to TRL 9) the risk associated with successful commercialisation is reduced and so is the intervention rate offered by the grant funder – typically from 100% at TRL 1-3, 60-70% at TRL 4-6 and 45% at TRL 7-9.

Working with an experienced grant writing consultancy will make sure that your project is defined as being at the correct Technology Readiness Level and will maximise the intervention rate (amount of grant funding) awarded by the grant funder.

How do you know what stage your technology is at on the TRL scale?

TRL 1 Basic principle observed and reported
TRL 1 is the origin of technology creation. Scientific research commences to underpin basic concepts and properties which will then be translated into future research and development.

TRL 2 Technology concept formulated
Technology at this stage of the scale is speculative as there is no experimental proof or detailed analysis available to support the conclusion of the initial research findings. However, the basic properties have been defined and practical applications can be applied to scientific research.

TRL 3 Experimental proof of concept
Analytical and laboratory studies should take place in TRL 3. This level determines whether the technology is feasible and ready to progress into the development stage. From the evidence collated in the studies, a proof-of-concept model is usually constructed which verifies that the technology has practical potential.

TRL 4 Technology validated in lab
Once the proof-of-concept technology is confirmed, multiple components can be tested with each other. The testing of multiple components helps to critically test environments, to define performance predictions in the final operating environment.

TRL 5 Technology validated in a relevant environment
As a continuation of TRL 4 at this stage, the technology is usually identified as a breadboard technology. The breadboard technology should undergo more rigorous testing in environments as close to reality as possible. Once this is complete the tech can advance to TRL 6.

TRL 6 Technology demonstrated in a relevant environment
A fully functional prototype of the technology should be developed. This prototype should be operated in an environment to demonstrate full-scale realistic issues.

TRL 7 System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
The working model or prototype should be operated in the actual operational environment or platform to demonstrate performance.

TRL 8 System complete and qualified
The final product has been successfully tested and is now “flight qualified” for its intended operational environment. This technology is now ready to be integrated into an already existing technology or technology system.

TRL 9 Actual technology proven in an operational environment
The final product has operated successfully in the environment for its intended use and is now a TRL 9 technology.

How can we help you successfully secure grant funding?

There are many different factors that will improve your chance of R&D grant funding success. Here at Granted, we know where to find suitable funding, how to access it successfully, and how to use it to the best effect. Our sector expertise and ability to upskill at pace in new technology sectors has enabled us to work with a wide variety of companies, from start-ups to blue-chip multinationals, in all economic sectors.

So if you have an ambitious project or innovation, why not contact us? A brief chat with one of our grant writing experts will help you discover if grant funding could get your project off the ground.


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