Federal Funding Opportunities for Each of the Nine Technology Readiness Levels: Part 1, TRLs 1-3

October 15, 2018 |

By CJ Evans, Member, Lee Enterprises Consulting, Inc.
Special to The Digest

Many promising ideas, concepts, and innovationsthat could improve, add to, and make game-changing breakthroughs in energy, sustainability, and the bioeconomy – and create new jobs, bring economic growth to U.S. communities, and catapult the U.S. into a global lead in innovation – wind up languishing, losing steam, and ultimately falling silent, never to be heard from again, for one simple reason: lack of sufficient capital.

At whatever point on the path to commercialization that a bioenergy or bioeconomy project might be, federal funding, grants, and incentives are available … at least, for those who know where to look and how to meet the requirements.

A significant element of seeking out and receiving financial support is recognizing at what stage the project is, identifying likely funding sources, and meeting the requirements necessary to apply for and receive that money.

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale is a method for ascertaining the technology maturity of an idea, concept, or innovation. It uses a scale of 1 to 9 with 9 being the most mature technology. (There also is a similar scale to measure each Manufacturing Readiness Level, or MRL.) For an in-depth look at TRLs as they pertain to the bioeconomy, see Dave Humbird’s article in this series: Expanded Technology Readiness Level (TRL) Definitions for the Bioeconomy.

TRLs and MRLs are used by multiple entities – including federal agencies, the oil and gas and biomedical industries, the European Union, the European Space Agency, and research and development agencies, among others.

The use of these scales enables different agencies, industries, and disciplines – including scientists, researchers, analysts, and innovators from different fields of endeavor – to have consistent, uniform discussions of the technical maturity, capabilities, and steps necessary to move an idea, concept, or innovation to the next level of development, and toward full realization.

With this information it is possible to define the funding needs for each level of development and to match it up with a list of funding opportunities targeted to that development level that are available from the private sector and federal government. This article, which is being published in two installments (TRLs 1-3 and 4-9), focuses on federal funding opportunities for the nine TRL levels.

While the definitions for TRLs are consistent across all entities, different industries, agencies, and disciplines include additional elements in their definitions to address specific needs consistent with their missions. The definitions used in the following table incorporate as many of these elements as possible. They also include a set of more finely-tuned and targeted definitions developed by DWH Processing Consultant and Lee Enterprises Consulting (LEC) allied member Dave Humbird that list the marketing and business development materials that need to be prepared along with the necessary technical data to progress from one TRL level to the next.

A second article by CJ Evans, “40 Mistakes That Will Kill A Proposal”, provides guidance on how to write a winning proposal.This article will appear later in this series.  For additional information on these funding opportunities and on preparing award-winning applications for grants and funding, please call or email us.

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Category: Thought Leadership

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