Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

The "Technology Readiness Level" (TRL) is originally a term that was coined in aerospace technology. It was used there to describe the degree of development of a technical product. For Horizon 2020/Horizon Europe, the TRL definition in the annex to the work programme has been adapted. It ranges on the scale from TRL 1 to TRL 9.

  • TRL 1 - Basic principles observed
  • TRL 2 - Technology concept formulated
  • TRL 3 - Experimental verification of the concept
  • TRL 4 - Technology tested in the laboratory
  • TRL 5 - Technology checked in a relevant environment (for key technologies in an industry-oriented environment)
  • TRL 6 - Technology tested in a relevant environment (for key technologies in an industry-oriented environment)
  • TRL 7 - Test of a system prototype in real life
  • TRL 8 - System is complete and qualified
  • TRL 9 - system works in an operational environment (competitive manufacturing in key technologies or space)

In the EIC Accelerator (formerly SME Instrument) and Fast Track to Innovation (FTI), at least TRL 5 must be completed at the time of application. This means that the research must be (largely) completed, that a technology must function in a relevant environment and that a functioning demonstrator must exist shortly. However, the very technical TRL concept is not necessarily transferable to all topics in Horizon 2020/ Horizon Europe. In the field of information and communication technology (ICT), for example, the beta version must be within reach when programming. Services, for example, must have passed initial deployment tests. In this way, the European Commission wants to ensure that the bridge between research/development and market launch is maintained. As a rule, national programmes only allow funding up to TRL 5. Due to different state aid legislation, the EU can also support the subsequent stages until shortly before market launch (TRL 9).


Source: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, 2018


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