145 IP and Commercialization | Technology Transfer | Readiness

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

As mentioned previously, the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of an invention is assessed at several points in the technology transfer process to evaluate the maturity of the current invention to better understand its commercial feasibility. If an invention has a very low TRL (e.g. TRL 2) then it may be prudent for the TTO to delay any commercial development and return the invention to the researchers to conduct further research. This is often the case with technologies that take a long time to develop in markets where licensees (often big corporate companies) need absolute proof of efficacy in a realistic setting or environment before they will commit a big investment to commercialize the invention. Some inventions work well in the lab or in vitro experiments, but when they are used in an industrial setting or in the field they do not perform. Many licensees demand data and validation of the performance of an invention at a higher TRL (e.g. TRL 6) before they will execute an option or license.

TRLs were first developed by Stan Sadin with NASA in 1974 and have since been adopted, improved, and modified for use by many industries, government organizations, funders and investors. The current TRL scale places technologies into one of nine levels depending on its maturity at the time of the assessment. Funding programs and some projects often evaluate the current TRL of a technology and predict where on the TRL scale it will be at the end of the project timeline.

The nine TRL levels are:

  • TRL 1 – Basic Principles Observed
  • TRL 2 – Technology Concept Formulated
  • TRL 3 – Experimental Proof-of-Concept Created
  • TRL 4 – Prototype Validated in the Lab
  • TRL 5 – Prototype Validated in the Field
  • TRL 6 – Prototype Demonstrated in an Industrial Relevant Field
  • TRL 7 – Prototype Demonstrated under Industrial Operational Environment
  • TRL 8 – Final Testing and Evaluation
  • TRL 9 – Successful Deployment
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Read Technology Readiness Levels ISED, Innovation Canada

Finally, take a moment to watch this short video on the TRL Scale and how it can be used to gauge an inventions maturity on the path to commercialization.

What are technology readiness levels? 2:20, by PatSnap Academy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9ZNL_zzkbY

Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL)

Another important tool is the Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) which is used to evaluate a supply company’s readiness to start manufacturing finished products. MRLs were developed by the US Department of Defense in collaboration with industry. These are very useful for assessing when a potential supplier might be ready to manufacture a specific product.

Entrepreneurs and start-up companies often out-source the manufacturing process of their first products and therefore MRLs can help guide this process to reduce manufacturing risks and maximize the quality of the intended product.

  • MRL 1 – Basic manufacturing implications identified
  • MRL 2 – Manufacturing concepts identified
  • MRL 3 – Manufacturing proof of concept developed
  • MRL 4 – Capability to produce the technology in a laboratory environment.
  • MRL 5 – Capability to produce prototype components in a production relevant environment.
  • MRL 6 – Capability to produce a prototype system or subsystem in a production relevant environment
  • MRL 7 – Capability to produce systems, subsystems, or components in a production representative environment.
  • MRL 8 – Pilot line capability demonstrated. Ready to begin low-rate production.
  • MRL 9 – Low-rate production demonstrated. Capability in place to begin Full Rate Production.
  • MRL 10 – Full rate production demonstrated and lean production practices in place.

 

Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL)

Another important tool is the Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) which is used to evaluate a supply company’s readiness to start manufacturing finished products. MRLs were developed by the US Department of Defense in collaboration with industry. These are very useful for assessing when a potential supplier might be ready to manufacture a specific product.

Entrepreneurs and start-up companies often out-source the manufacturing process of their first products and therefore MRLs can help guide this process to reduce manufacturing risks and maximize the quality of the intended product.

  • MRL 1 – Basic manufacturing implications identified
  • MRL 2 – Manufacturing concepts identified
  • MRL 3 – Manufacturing proof of concept developed
  • MRL 4 – Capability to produce the technology in a laboratory environment.
  • MRL 5 – Capability to produce prototype components in a production relevant environment.
  • MRL 6 – Capability to produce a prototype system or subsystem in a production relevant environment
  • MRL 7 – Capability to produce systems, subsystems, or components in a production representative environment.
  • MRL 8 – Pilot line capability demonstrated. Ready to begin low-rate production.
  • MRL 9 – Low-rate production demonstrated. Capability in place to begin Full Rate Production.
  • MRL 10 – Full rate production demonstrated and lean production practices in place.
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Read The Innovation Policy Platform. Technology Transfer and Commercialization.

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