The Benefits and Limitations of Technology Readiness Levels

Technology readiness levels (TRLs) are a measurement system used to evaluate the maturity of new technologies. This system is commonly used by government agencies, private companies, and research institutions to analyze the feasibility of a new technology and its potential for commercialization. While TRLs can be a useful tool, there are both benefits and limitations to consider when using this method to evaluate new technologies.


1. Assessing Progress: TRLs offer a clear and concise way to track the progress of a technology throughout its development cycle. This can be helpful in identifying any areas that need improvement or refinement, ensuring that the technology is progressing towards a viable end product.

2. Objective Evaluation: The TRL system is structured in a way that allows for an objective evaluation of a technology’s readiness. This helps to eliminate personal bias and ensures that evaluations are consistent across different projects.

3. Investment and Funding: TRLs can be influential in securing investment or funding for a technology. A higher TRL indicates a higher level of maturity and a greater likelihood of success, making it more attractive to investors and stakeholders.


1. Limited Scope: One limitation of the TRL system is that it only evaluates the technology’s readiness level and not its overall viability. This means that a technology with a high TRL may still fail due to market demand, economic factors, or other external factors.

2. Time and Cost: Evaluating a technology using the TRL system can be time-consuming and costly. It requires significant resources to assess a technology’s maturity level accurately. Because of this, companies may not have the time, funds, or personnel required to complete a thorough evaluation.

3. Subjective Interpretation: Despite the objective nature of the system, subjective interpretation can still come into play. The criteria for evaluating technologies at each TRL level can be interpreted differently by different evaluators, leading to inconsistencies in assessment.

In conclusion, the technology readiness level system is an important tool for evaluating new technologies. However, it is essential to understand both the benefits and limitations of the system to ensure that it is used effectively. By understanding these limitations and addressing them appropriately, TRL evaluations can be an effective mechanism for assessing the viability of new technologies.