From NASA to EU: the evolution of the TRL scale in Public Sector Innovation

Héder, Mihály (2017) From NASA to EU: the evolution of the TRL scale in Public Sector Innovation. THE INNOVATION JOURNAL, 22 (2). pp. 1-23. ISSN 1715-3816


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This study examines how the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale became, through various mutations, an innovation policy tool of the European Union (EU), and summarizes the risks and opportunities created along the way. The paper presents a comparative study about the evolution of two innovation-related policies that share a common concept. This document-centric study relies on position papers, white papers, government documents, policy documents and research program descriptions. The paper establishes that the concreteness and sophistication of the TRL scale gradually diminished as its usage spread outside its original context (space programs). A discipline-specific tailoring of the scale is essential in every area before application. Yet for a number of disciplines this has not happened, while in some other areas the available customizations and handbooks are not used in EU context. This uncritical usage of the scale in the current EU framework program seems to carry more risks than advantages. In the absence of discipline-specific guides, TRLs will predictably become a source of confusion and a subject of abuse in efforts to obtain EU funding.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics and Computer Science > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science / számítástechnika, számítógéptudomány
Divisions: Internet Applications Department
SWORD Depositor: MTMT Injector
Depositing User: MTMT Injector
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2017 10:36
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2019 13:56

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