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From Bench to Business

​What are Technology Readiness Levels?

Scientific discovery has intrinsic value by contributing to the store of human knowledge. Sometimes these breakthroughs find immediate applications, but quite often, become useful in unforeseen and surprising ways in the future. To capture value and contribute to societal well-being, the disconnects between knowledge and technology must be identified, performance and properties evaluated, and commercial viability considered. This is the role of technology readiness level (TRL) assessments.

There are nine TRLs that pass from basic to applied research (TRL 1 to 3); to prototyping (TRL 4 to 6); and finally demonstration and commercialization (TRL 7 to 9).

The School of Materials Science and Engineering engages in all TRLs. Fundamental studies and applied projects often take place entirely within MSE, sometimes with inspiration from real-world challenges. Some of these projects progress to deeper commercial and government agency partnerships, or the creation of spin-off companies, which drive the development of prototypes to establish proof-of-concept and proof-of-value. This work often involves NTU’s interdisciplinary research institutes. Finally, demonstration and commercialization is led by corporate laboratories or consortia, that may be located on the NTU campus, and where MSE staff and students can continue to participate in readying a technology for consumers.