The Technology Maturity Level (TRL), is a method or tool developed by NASA in the mid 1970s - 1980s, being applied in space programs; later in 2008 the European Space Agency (ESA) adopts this tool for their research projects, in 2010 the European Commission applies it in different universities and research centers. and in 2013 it was standardized by ISO 16290. In early 2014, the European Union made full use of the LRT in its "Horizon 2020" innovation programs.
In Peru, during the year 2021, the National Council for Science, Technology and Technological Innovation (CONCYTEC) implemented the Vincúlate platform, which includes a description of this methodological tool, as well as a basic calculator to determine the LRT.
The following graph shows the levels of technological maturity, centered on 3 different groups of focus concepts, the first refers to the laboratory environment, where the research of the initial hypotheses and theories are carried out under experimentation with the scientific method, the second refers to the simulation environment when the product or process is already developed and simulations can be made on a smaller scale, with this level the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is achieved, finally in the third conceptual group of levels refers to the real environment, i.e. the product can be marketed. It should be noted that between the simulation environment and the real environment (TRL 6 and TRL 7), the technology has to be adjusted to the standards, regulations, technical, commercial and legal requirements, so that it can enter the market or be transferred without other essential requirements.
The following chart shows other details of the TRL levels, such as the feasibility test at the technical level, in the transition from TRL3 to TRL4 known as "The valley of death", where technologies have to be demonstrated with scientific methodology through the necessary tools and instruments for their performance and quality verification.
In the transition from TRL 6 to TRL 7, it refers to the validation of the minimum viable product (MVP) with a commercial approach. As the last transition stage, TRL9 is referred to the market launch and commercialization, where there are considerations of industrial application, through the various measurement requirements detailed below.
As we can see, the TRL levels are part of the innovation cycle, where there is an important factor, which is the continuous improvement of the product or process; without this active catalyst, technology innovation would shorten its life expectancy in the market, or in other words, its sustainability.
Throughout the years it has been demonstrated the importance of its application in innovation centers to have a brief analysis of the state of technological maturity of the different technologies in the areas of science and engineering, even recently it is being applied to social areas. All these types of applications will depend on the products, procedures, services to be achieved; later on we will detail the different uses.
In Peru during the year 2021, the Directorate of Inventions and New Technologies (DIN) of INDECOPI granted 838 new patents between utility models and invention patents. On average, only 5% to 11% of the applications filed are commercialized; this is an indication that technologies should be technologically evaluated, not only in the technical area but also in their business plan, business models, types of transfer they can adopt, etc.
In this context of invention development, managing the uncertainty of the technological level of the product is essential, especially when they are at an early stage. The planning of the "Technological Critical Path" can be identified with a detailed analysis at the different TRL levels, being more efficient when there is greater specialization according to the type of technology, the work team, the commercial development team, the intellectual property strategy and the commercialization route from the local level to its internationalization.
An important aspect to be considered by innovation organizations, R&D&I technology companies is to know how to implement tools, methods, solutions based on strategies, Technology Watch (T.W.) and Competitive Intelligence (C.I.). This ultimately leads to develop comprehensive projects, where the preparation of human capital such as technical, commercial and legal teams play a very important role for the promotion and scaling of innovation.
Example of its application TRL - En
An example of application of the Specialized Technology Maturity Level according to the type of technology (TRL - En) is the implementation of the ISO 16290 standard. It is commonly used to know the state of the technology, for decision making in the technological transition and the financing that can be given either from a seed investment to the acceleration of a product in the market.
It is important to emphasize the usefulness at the moment of elaborating our business models, for a product or a process, mainly in those companies with innovation projects of scientific-technological base. In SMEs and large companies it is important to know the level of technological maturity of the technology being developed, especially when the objective is to reach the market through B2B or B2C strategies.
In the value chain it is also relevant to measure TRL, because this will allow to generate value once the critical points of the invention or innovation have been identified; in this way risk management becomes effective.
To better exemplify the use of the TRL, in this graph "Prism of Innovation" the white light is denoted as the general idea of a project with innovative potential, the spectrum of colors would indicate the different levels and integral optics of each transition from research to commercialization.