Life Science Instrumentation: Firm Growth in Tough Times

The life science instrument market includes 10 product categories and accounts for the largest share of the analytical instrumentation market due to strong support from government programs, and private and public research institutions.

Somewhat immune to negative sales trends caused by the downturn of global economies, the life science market grew 7.2% in 2008 to over $10.0 billion. It is expected to post similar growth for 2009. Demand is expected to remain strong due to government-funded genomic research initiatives, particularly in the US, where favorable funding is expected under the new administration.

The life science market is dependent on aftermarket products such as reagents, kits and other consumables. In fact, the aftermarket accounts for about half of total life science–market demand. PCR, which is heavily aftermarket oriented, leads the life science instrumentation market in terms of share, accounting for 23% of sales. The nucleic acid amplification market is expected to grow 7.8% in 2009, fueled by sales of real-time PCR systems and aftermarket products. Innovative reagent systems such as multiplexing kits continue to drive growth in this market.

The cell analysis market, which includes flow cytometers, high-content screening systems, and patch clamp and transfection technologies, accounted for 19% of the life science market in 2008. It is expected to grow 7.8% in 2009 fueled by solid growth in the US and Europe. Flow cytometry products are expected to exhibit robust growth, particularly for cancer research and infectious disease monitoring.

Microarray technology accounted for nearly 13% of the life science market in 2008 and sales are expected to grow 8.3% in 2009. Like PCR, microarray technology is expected to post strong growth due to increased support from genomic research centers. Affymetrix and Illumina lead the market.

Together, nucleic acid purification and cell separation techniques accounted for 12.7% of the life science market in 2008. Sales of these two segments are expected to increase 4.5% in 2009 due to research and diagnostic applications. QIAGEN and Life Technologies (formerly Invitrogen) are the market leaders. The DNA sequencer market accounted for about 10% of life science instrument sales last year and is expected to grow 12% this year. New-generation DNA sequencer technologies are fueling growth. Life Technologies (formerly Applied Biosystems) accounts for the largest share of sales in this market, although Illumina continues to gain momentum.

The in vivo animal imaging market accounts for about 3% of the life science market, but it is experiencing the fastest growth. Preclinical testing of potential drug compounds on animals is driving growth. This market is forecasted to grow 15% in 2009.

Electrophoresis equipment, informatics and synthesis accounted for 7.9%, 7.1% and 4.8% of the life science market, respectively, in 2008. These technologies are important in supporting other technologies, but growth in these segments is expected to be modest in 2009.

The top five life science vendors accounted for approximately 45% of total market demand in 2008. With the merger of Applied Biosystems and Invitrogen at the end of 2008 to form Life Technologies (see IBO 11/30/08), Life Technologies holds a commanding position, representing nearly a quarter of the life science instruments market.

Life Science Instrumentation 2008–09

Market Share Growth Rate

Nucleic Acid Amplification 22.2% 7.8%

Cell Analysis 19.0% 7.8%

Microarrays 12.7% 8.3%

Nucleic Acid Purif. & Cell Sep.12.5% 4.5%

Sequencing 9.3% 12.0%

Electrophoresis 7.8% 3.8%

Informatics 7.0% 4.4%

Synthesis 4.7% 3.4%

In Vivo Animal Imaging 3.3% 15.1%

Biosensors 1.4% 6.8%

Total 100.0% 7.3%

Life Science Instrumentation Market Leaders

Informatics Accelrys, MDL (Symyx)

Microarrays Affymetrix, Illumina

Electrophoresis GE Healthcare, Bio-Rad Laboratories

Nucleic Acid Purif. & Cell Sep. QIAGEN, Invitrogen

Nucleic Acid Amplification Applied Biosystems, Invitrogen

Sequencing Applied Biosystems, GE Healthcare

In Vivo Animal Imaging Siemens, Caliper Life Sciences

Biosensors GE Healthcare, Corning

Cell Analysis Becton Dickinson, Beckman Coulter

Synthesis Applied Biosystems, GE Healthcare

Chart: 2007-10 Total Life Science Industry Market

2007 2008 2009 2010

Millions $9453 $10129 $10870 $11648

Chart: 2008 Life Science Supplier Market Shares

Applied Biosystems 17%

Becton Dickinson 8%

GE Healthcare 8%

Invitrogen 7%


Others 55%

Chart: 2008 Life Science Market by Product Type


Initial Systems 3220

Aftermarket 6166

Service 743

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