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 blog article 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).