A simple method for estimating technology maturity

"Technology maturity" means whether a technology is still in an early research stage, or if it has become a commodity product already. Or if it’s anything in between. For example, asteroid mining is probably closer to the “research” stage. By contrast, smartwatches are a commodity product.
Below is a back-of-the-envelope, data-supported method for estimating tech maturity levels. The idea behind the method is that depending on its maturity level, a technology typically shows up in different types of data.
For a research-stage technology, we expect to see science publications and R&D funding, but not much else. Once a technology is intermediate-stage, there should also be technology licensing, patents, and initial venture capital investments. For a mature technology, we expect to see mainstream news and market analyses.
Conversely, this means that  the maturity of a  technology can be estimated by the data sets it appears in.
We distinguish four levels of technology maturity:
  1. Mature. Corresponds to Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 7-9.
  2. Intermediate. Corresponds to TRLs 4-6.
  3. Research-Stage. Corresponds to TRLs 1-3.
  4. Hype. We added this level. It refers to a technology that receives lots of attention, and perhaps even investment, but that has no science to back it up.
For more background, you can check out our guide on data-based tech maturity estimates.
We also made a visual checklist to guide you through the method (click on the preview below to get to the full version):

visual checklist for estimating technology maturity

Here are our technology maturity levels, and how you can estimate them using Mergeflow data:


If your topic is present in at least two of...
  • Venture capital investments
  • Market estimates
  • Mainstream industry news
  • Clinical trials, Phase 4
If your topic is in none of the data sets above, move on to Intermediate.


If your topic is present in at least one of...
  • Venture capital investments
  • Technology licensing
  • Patents
If your topic is in none of these data sets, move on to Research-Stage.


If your topic is present in one or both of...
  • Scientific publications
  • Funded research projects
...but nowhere else.


(we added this level)
If your topic is present in one or both of...
  • Venture capital investments
  • Technology blogs

...but nowhere else (particularly not in scientific publications).

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