UK’s ‘commercialisation gap’ tackled by new tech readiness toolkit

The gap between the UK’s innovation performance, and its ability to commercialise those inventions, could be narrowed by a new toolkit developed by the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

The MTC’s new ‘Technology Readiness Measurement Toolkit’ provides a rigorous and independent

Lloyds Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre, Coventry

assessment of the progress of early stage technologies. It will improve communication between investors and entrepreneurs, speed up the development of British inventions and support stronger growth in engineering and exports.

Technology readiness is usually assessed using two existing scales known as Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) and Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRLs), which are an important factor in many early-stage investment decisions.

TRLs and MRLs were originally developed for the NASA Space Race and then for defence industries but cannot always be reliably applied to emerging technology companies.

The MTC project, which was funded by Innovate UK, improves on TRLs and MRLs by clarifying and integrating the measurement scales, and incorporating wider issues such as the readiness of supply chains to deliver necessary components.

Andrew Mayfield, managing director of MTC’s Business Launch Centre, said:

“Our results show that the TRL Toolkit produces accurate and consistent results across different sectors and stages of development.

“This is a significant advance that will help close the gap between Britain’s performance in inn

ovation and commercialisation.”

Umit Bititci, professor of business performance at Heriot-Watt University, said:  “TRLs and MRLs have traditionally been used as a snapshot of progress achieved so far, rather than as a tool to estimate the future time and investment required to get the product to market.

“The new, independently verified toolkit, provides entrepreneurs and investors with a countdown to commercial lift off, accounting for a design for manufacture and manufacturing processes, supply chains, skills and other aspects that underpin business models.

The MTC and Heriot-Watt University are now offering an independent and cost-effective evaluation service based on the TRL Toolkit for early stage technology developers and investors. The assessment usually takes three days in total, including a half day site visit. The UK Business Angels Association has described the service as “exceptionally valuable”.

To request a copy of the report, please contact: Umit Bititci on 0131 451 3553 or u.s.bititci@hw.ac.uk

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