The Dynamic Chinese Industry Market

Last year, China purchased more than $1.5 billion in analytical instrumentation. As one of the fastest growing markets for laboratory instrumentation, China is a focus of major investments by foreign instrument companies, which are rapidly building their sales and marketing, service and manufacturing capabilities in the country. China is also home to a large domestic instrument industry, which accounted for 20% of the analytical instruments sold in the country in 2006. The majority of these companies also sell products abroad.

In this article, IBO takes a look at five technology segments of the country’s analytical instrument market based on the information contained in Strategic Directions International’s 2007 report, “Chinese Instrument Demand and Production: A Genuine Leap Forward.”

Academic and government laboratories make up half of the end-user market for analytical instruments in China, as the central government is the country’s primary funding source for life science research, environmental testing and food testing. Private industry demand is led by pharmaceutical, agriculture/food and petrochemical companies, which are among the fastest growing industries in China. The influx of foreign manufacturing and R&D facilities has also fueled demand by these and other industries, such as chemicals, metals and independent testing, including contract research organizations (CROs). According to the Chinese government, the number of R&D centers established by multinational corporations in China totaled 1,160 at the end of 2007.

The MS market (FT-MS, GC/MS, single quadrupole LC/MS, tandem LC/MS, magnetic sector MS, MALDI-TOF MS, TOF-LC/MS) is the fastest growing analytical instrument market in China. Strong demand from multiple end-user segments, new products and the widespread use of GC/MS are driving this growth. MS is also one instrument market that is largely supplied by foreign companies due to their advanced technology. Tandem LC/MS and GC/MS are the largest segments of the Chinese MS market. However, the higher end of the MS market, including Fourier Transform MS and TOF LC/MS, are growing faster due to demand from academic researchers, CROs and government laboratories. Major suppliers of MS products in China include Agilent, Applied Biosystems and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Life science instrumentation (biosensors, cell analysis systems, electrophoresis products, informatics products, in vivo animal imagers, microarrays, molecular biology preparation kits, nucleic acid amplification products, sequencers, DNA and peptide synthesizers) is the second fastest growing instrument market in China and also one of the largest. The majority of life science instruments are sold through Chinese distributors. Among the fastest growing market segments are animal imagers, microarrays and nucleic acid amplification products. The major suppliers of life science instrumentation in China are Applied Biosystems and GE Life Sciences. There are also numerous Chinese life science instrument vendors. Aftermarket products, such as consumables and reagents, represent the largest market segment. Invitrogen acquired Bio Asia in 2004 (see IBO 12/15/04) and, in 2006, Sigma-Aldrich acquired its Chinese distributor Beijing Superior (see IBO 5/31/06) to raise their presence in this highly competitive market segment.

As with life science instrumentation, surface science instrumentation (confocal microscopy, electron microscopy, optical microscopy, scanning probe microscopy, surface analyzers) is another segment of the analytical instrument market that is benefiting from the Chinese government’s increases in R&D funding. It is also a market in which Chinese companies have a sizable presence due to the sales of optical microscopes. In fact, optical microscopes account for close to half of the Chinese surface science instrument market. Motic and Chongqing Optical & Electrical Scanning are the leading Chinese microscopy companies. The fastest growing segment of the surface science instrumentation market, and a larger market compared to the other surface analysis techniques, is electron microscopy. Foreign investment in the semiconductor/electronic market and academic research are driving this demand. Leading foreign vendors of surface science instrumentation in the country include Nikon, Olympus and Hitachi High-Technologies.

Another market in which Chinese instrument manufacturers have a strong competitive position is molecular spectroscopy (fluorescence, infrared, near infrared, NMR/EPR, Raman and UV-visible spectroscopy, colorimetry). Domestic manufacturers have a competitive advantage at the lower end of the market due to pricing and comparable technology, particularly in the general purpose UV-visible spectrophotometer segment. Thus, it is not surprising that UV-visible systems also comprise the largest segment of the Chinese molecular spectroscopy market. The largest domestic manufacturers of molecular spectroscopy instruments are Beijing Beifenruili Analytical Instrument, Yixing Jingke Optical Instruments and Beijing Rayleigh Analytical Instrument. Government, academic and pharmaceutical laboratories are the largest end-users markets for molecular spectroscopy instrumentation.

Chinese demand for both atomic and molecular spectroscopy instrumentation is driven by environmental testing applications. Other major end-users of atomic spectroscopy systems (arc-spark, atomic absorption, inductive coupled plasma, inductively coupled plasma-MS, X-ray diffraction and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, elemental analyzers) in China include the metals and semiconductor/electronics industries. However, applications by end-users in utilities and petrochemicals labs are also growing rapidly. X-ray fluorescence and atomic absorption spectroscopy are the largest market segments, but organic analyzers are the fastest growing. As a result, Shimadzu is one of the largest atomic spectroscopy suppliers in China. However, Thermo Fisher Scientific and PerkinElmer compete for the top spot. Domestic suppliers include Beijing Beifenruili and Beijing Purkinje General.

< | >