Science and Medicine Groups Predictions for 2021 in the Lab Instrumentation, Diagnostics and Imaging Industries

The unpredictable events of 2020 might cause one forswear all prediction-making.  Yet for Science and Medicine Group, the publishing brands we offer (Strategic Directions International, Bioinformatics, Kalorama Information, IMV, Instrument Business Outlook) are in the business of prediction-making.  Thus once again, we offer our top ten predictions for 2021 based on our market research publications:

  1. Recovery in Academic and Lab Markets:2020 was obviously an atypical year, and in analytical and life science instrumentation markets (chromatography, spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and other fields) 2021 will also be atypical as a year of recovery.  Academic and government lab budgets are expected to take more than one year to recover, since public funding has been so impacted by lower tax revenues and important spending to directly address the crisis.      This from Strategic Directions International, authors of the The 2020 Global Assessment Report: The Laboratory Analytical & Life Science Instrumentation Industry
  2. That Growth Will Be Weighted Toward Asia: The current resurgence of the pandemic in the US and Europe will delay the recovery of these markets in 2021, while many Asia Pacific countries that were more successful in suppressing the disease are already seeing increased demand for lab instrumentation and equipment.
  3. Boost in the M&A Market for Instrument Companies: Instrument Business Outlook, the premier newsletter for instrument executives, expects M&A activity to increase in 2021.  Although the COVID-19 outbreak may have slowed M&A activity across many industries earlier this year, that changed late in the year.   The largest deals for the cell-based instrument market came from 10x Genomics and Bio-Rad Laboratories and were focused on single-cell analysis. 10x Genomics purchased two companies in the spatial analysis space, including its  $350 million acquisition of ReadCoo), while Bio-Rad had its $100 million deal for Celsee.
  4. Radiation Therapy Capital Purchases Up in 2021: Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted this year’s capital budgets for radiation therapy equipment, it is likely that investments are being shifted to 2021-2022. This according to IMV Info’s RT Market Outlook –  Going forward, a higher 25% of the sites are planning to have capital budgets of $1 million or more in 2021 and 2022, compared to the current 18% of 2020 budgets. 10.
  5. Urgent Cares Provide Perfect Outlet for COVID-19 Vaccines: Urgent care locations have grown over the past decade, Kalorama estimates the urgent care locations in the United States to be 9,900, growing from nearly 7,000 in 2013.  That’s spectacular growth, driven by a need for more healthcare services, improved insured populations and resistance to physician office waiting times.  Now there’s opportunity with new COVID-19 vaccines.  “There is no better front-line for distribution of a widely utilized vaccine among a healthy population,” said Bruce Carlson, Publisher of Kalorama Information.  “of course supplemented by traditional vaccine outlets such as governments and physician offices.  But urgent cares offer walk-in, no previous relationship service, which is ideal for a vaccine.”   The market research firm’s report The U.S. Urgent Care Center Market, says that what distinguishes urgent care centers is that they are a walk in clinic offering extended hour access for acute illness and injury care that is either beyond the scope or availability of the typical primary care practice but offer less services than an emergency room would.
  6. Customized Retargeted Ads Will Help Instrument Companies Advertise Their Products:If they use it correctly that is.  According to The 2020 Best Practices for Advertising to Life Scientists: Online and in Print a report conducted by Bioinformatics, part of Science and Medicine Group.  Watch age and demographic preferences, and keep ads simple and benefit messages concise.  They also will respond to retargeted ads, if they are done well.  There is also generational differences in how they will respond to ads.  This is one of the many insights in the report, which essentially asks life scientists how they prefer to learn about new products.      
  7. Antibody testing for COVID-19:will be on the increase, brought about by vaccine effectiveness.  This means both the official studies of vaccine effectiveness and the informal checking by concerned individuals.  Antibody testing was talked about last year in the midst of the heaviest part of the COVID-19 crisis as a test used to ‘return to work.’  That did not work out in great numbers, but expect resurgence.
  8. Growth in Applied Markets for Lab Instrumentation:Uses such as food and environmental testing are forecast to increase spending by 7%-8% in 2021 on average.
  9. New Instrument Entrants in Diagnostics “Stay In:”Expect more diagnostics investments by instrument companies as their COVID-19 solutions opened the door to clinical labs and partners they may not have worked with before.    Bruker, Perkin-Elmer, Fluidigm are among the makers also in diagnostics.  QIAGEN recently discussed in their investors day how the huge increase in instrument placements this year for COVID 19 testing will pay dividends for consumables sales in years to come.
  10. 10.   High Sensitivity Troponin POC Approval:Troponin can be a predictor of heart attack and a  marker of coronary disease status.  hsTn assays are able to accurately measure 10-fold lower concentrations of cardiac troponin than contemporary assays.   The use of high sensitivity troponin in point of care settings, particularly the ER has been showing promise, and it’s been used with COVID-19 patients to detect severity, but there are no FDA approvals.   A product from Quidel has CE Mark, and Abbott i-Stat’s test has shown high sensitivity levels, though there is no predicting which brand or test would be the first POC hsTN nor do we make one.

What about last year’s predictions?  COVID-19 certainly threw predictions for a loop – those about Asian markets, rising imaging volumes in the U.S. multiphotonics and sequencing prep sales were affected;  (we extend those predictions to 2021) others held, more or less, to be true:   CART-T therapy sales should near a billion with final results still out, AI remains most useful in imaging applications, mass spectrometry is being brought to bear even in COVID-19 detection.  Hematology handhelds, while limited by COVID-19, continued to grow within the category of hematology tests.