Understanding the Technology Readiness Scale

This week we look at the technology readiness scale. Understanding this scale is critical to your invention.

  • You need to understand that grants are government
  • You can always learn stuff, so get smart
  • Get your story straight or you will get eaten alive in the grant tank

Don’t Wait! Download our "Three Steps to Winning a Government Grant" PDF here -

Before I talk about the technology readiness scale this week, I want to share a story with you.

I remember the day almost like it was yesterday.

A few years after high school, I decided to major in political science in my hometown at the University of New Brunswick at Saint John.

  UNBSJ is a small campus, but I was lucky to have some amazing professors in the Department of Political Science.

UNBSJ is a small campus, but I was lucky to have some amazing professors in the Department of Political Science.

One day I was buying gas at the gas station near campus. At one of the other pumps was an old high school colleague.

“Hey Dave, what are you up to these days?

I replied, “Studying politics at UNBSJ.”

He replied, “When you get that degree, do they ask if you want fries with that?”

It stung. Not going to lie.

The gas station has been renovated since that time, but it is still there to this day.

gas station.jpg

What in the world does that story have to do with the technology readiness scale?

That story impacts the technology readiness scale in three ways: (1) you need to understand that grants are government; (2) you can always learn stuff, so get smart; and (3) get your story straight or you will get eaten alive in the grant tank.


Look, if you have a P.Eng. and you are inventing a technology, you may have never heard of the technology readiness scale. But if you want to win a grant, you need to understand it.

In simple terms, once the idea enters your head, you are at Level 1. Once you’re selling the product, you just completed Level 9.


Here’s how Alberta Innovates describes each level:


Staying on the Alberta Innovates example, they have three great grants for climbing the scales: $10,000 micro-voucher, $100,000 Voucher, and $300,000 for it Product Demonstration Program.

Aside, I had the privilege of writing the winning application for the PDP program. I’ll have to write a blog on how to win it someday.

The big money is of course for technologies further along in the scale. Keep this in mind while you are developing your technology: money exists along the entire pre-commercial journey. A talk with the grant agency is always advised before you start writing.


Back to my earlier point in this blog. Did I know at the time that studying politics would somehow lead me to TRL scales? Of course not.

Had I listened to that skeptic, I would not have studied what I love and become an expert in the little grant niche.

"It is better to risk starving to death than surrender. If you give up on your dreams, what's left?" -- Jim Carrey.

When I was studying my MA at Wilfrid Laurier University, the Dean of Arts told our class, “just get as smart as you can. The rest will work out.” I always thought that was great advice.


Now here comes the kicker: if you don’t know your TRL level, you may have a grant advisor push you “down” the TRL scale when really you are getting close to commercialization. That means way less bucks for you. Way less.

To mitigate that situation, you need to be prepared for the Grant Tank.

shark tank.jpg

Make sure you have your who, what, when, where, why, and how much all sorted out. Nothing can be more frustrating for an inventor then going in to a grant agency meeting unprepared.

Preparation is key, which is why we “invented” (sounds a bit silly, but it’s true) 15 steps to winning your grant agency meeting. It’s absolutely the best product in the grant world bar none. After a successful grant meeting, you are given the “green light.” The road to funding is that much easier.

I just had a client meet the grant agency after receiving this package, and they are going to help my client with the application.

I’m telling you be prepared for grant meetings and watch your success go through the roof.

That’s all I got this week.

Have a great week and don’t let anybody take your dream away!

p.s. Do you qualify for millions in grants? Take this short survey to find out: