If your small business relies on research funding or grants, you are sometimes required to report your project’s technology readiness level (TRL). This TRL is a high-level summary of how your project is going. It is up to you to make the assessment and determine what level your project is at.
There are nine technology readiness levels beginning with evaluating a concept idea and ending with successful project completion. The first three stages are evaluation and research-based. This means your project is just getting started. TRL 4 and 5 are development stages, while TRL 6 is the final testing stage. If you’ve begun demonstrating your prototype, you are at TRL 7. The successful deployment of a technology is TRL 9.
Many Canadian grants are very specific regarding eligibility. If your project is in the concept evaluation stage, you have access to different types of grants than a project in the final demonstration phase. Projects in the earliest three readiness levels are still rapidly developing. These projects — and only these projects — are eligible to receiving funding from the Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP) or Going Global Innovation (GGI). The first three TRLs represent projects that are still under consideration or currently being developed.
The next four TRLs (levels 4 through 7) represent projects under development. Whether your project is still in the early- or mid-stage development process, your project is underway and is now eligible for research funding. Examples of funding programs specific to this level includes IRAP Grants and NSERC Engage.
Finally, you get technology commercialization funding if your project is in the highest TRLs. This means your project is almost ready to go or in the early stages of being commercialized. The Sustainable Development Technology Fund (SD Tech) or Building in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP) are two programs that only support projects with the highest TRLs. Before thinking about where to apply for funding, look at your projects and assign each of them a TRL. From here, you know what you can apply for.