Microfluidics industry: what will trigger the next growth spurt?

“Microfluidic technologies have been around for a while, but only in the last few years have certain applications started benefiting from microfluidic breakthroughs”, comments Technology & Market Analyst, Sébastien Clerc from Yole Développement (Yole), part of Yole Group of Companies (1). Indeed, microfluidic technologies have finally found sweet spots and there are already credible options for the next upsurge, announces Yole, in its latest report, Status of the Microfluidics Industry.

Yole is daily working with KnowMade, a technology intelligence and IP strategy consulting company to understand the technology trends and market evolution. KnowMade, part of Yole Group of Companies as well, is covering lot of industrial domains including the microfluidics industry. This year, the company especially released two dedicated reports: FLUIDIGM Patent Portfolio Analysis and Microfluidic Technologies for Diagnostic Applications Patent Landscape.
What is the status of the microfluidics industry? What are the major technical evolutions and business opportunities? What is the impact on the supply chain?… Yole Group of Companies invites you to immerse yourself in microfluidics world with latest market and technology trends.

Ten years ago, NGS started to find new possibilities enabled by microfluidics and the cost of sequencing never stopped dropping since then. Next, in 2014/2015, molecular diagnostics for decentralized use began reaping microfluidic technologies’ full benefits, especially at the sample preparation level, thus enabling strong penetration in the field of PoC testing. Today, these applications are still driving the microfluidics industry’s growth and structure. In its microfluidics report, Yole announces a US$2.5 billion microfluidic device market in 2017 and forecasts a US$5.8 billion market by 2022, with 18% CAGR during this period (2).

From microfluidic devices like manufactured chips, delivery tools, and dispensers, microfluidic-based products are then provided to end-users, offering numerous possibilities.

“The industry’s growth is not surprising, given the high demand from end-users for increasingly automated, integrated, miniaturized solutions”, asserts Dr Benjamin Roussel, Business Unit Manager, Medical Technologies at Yole.

The microfluidics industry could experience additional growth booms in the next few years. In particular, cancer diagnostics, treatment planning, and follow-up look extremely promising with the increased use of microfluidic technologies at sample preparation level to isolate circulating tumor cells and DNA in liquid biopsies for example and at diagnostics level with molecular diagnostics for oncology for the analysis of these cells and DNA molecules.
Moreover, in accordance with these forecasts, Brice Sagot, KnowMade’s Founder & CEO confirms: cancers are currently the major diseases targeted by patent applicants in the domain of microfluidic technologies for diagnostic applications (3). In this domain, nucleic acid amplification is the most widespread diagnostic technique in patents.

Organs-on-chips are another microfluidics application with the potential to become a multi-billion-dollar market, enabling more predictive models for drug and compound testing.

“There is no doubt these emerging applications will drive the market’s continuous growth over the next decade, especially with a myriad of startups emerging and proposing innovative microfluidic solutions to solve today’s and tomorrows’ major issues”, comments Dr Marjorie Villien, Technology & Market Analyst from Yole.

The emergence of numerous new players has inevitably some consequences on historic microfluidic players, who are facing strengthening competition and sometimes need to adapt their strategy to remain competitive. As an example, Fluidigm is considered as a pioneer in microfluidic technologies, in particular gene sequencing and genomics. In its Fluidigm: Patent portfolio analysis report, the company KnowMade, also part of Yole Group of Companies, shows that Fluidigm started the development of its patent portfolio in the early 2000s. The number of new patents filed each year by Fluidigm has remained stable since then. However, the company recently faced a strong stop in revenue growth, certainly due to fierce competition. In the meantime, its innovations and claimed inventions have evolved considerably: could it be correlated? KnowMade analyses the interesting and strategic shift made by Fluidigm in order to strengthen its market positioning. Will this shift allow Fluidigm to get back to growth?

Yole and KnowMade collaborate to get a comprehensive understanding of the markets evolution and companies’ strategy. Combination of their analyses is showing the relevance of this partnership for their customers.

Microfluidic technologies’ maturation and their increased use within the industry has also affected supply chain structure. While some diagnostics companies are outsourcing microfluidic device production, others have made the choice to produce in-house, which raises many questions about the cost of goods sold and where the value stands. Yole’s analysts have investigated these critical points and present their conclusions in the report.

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Sources: 

(1) Yole Group of Companies includes Yole Développement, KnowMade, System Plus Consulting, PISEO and Blumorpho.
(2) Status of the Microfluidics Industry report, Yole Développement, May 2017
(3) Microfluidic Technologies for Diagnostic Applications Patent Landscape report, KnowMade, January 2017

Acronyms:
NGS : Next-Generation Sequencing
PoC : Point-of-Care