The academic market for lab instrumentation encompasses university research labs, core labs, non-profit research institutes, and clinical research activities performed at university hospitals. It is the single largest end market for instrument sales. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic halted many academic lab operations in 2020 due to mandatory and self-imposed shutdowns, which has resulted in a significant reduction of demand. While academia struggles to recover from the pandemic, cutting-edge research areas in life science, advanced materials, and quantum computing will drive the market.
Life science research is a leading frontier of scientific discovery, with advances for potentially curing diseases waiting to be unlocked. Structural biology, which is expanding globally, will support future sales of cryo-EM instruments, other life science instruments, and consumables for sample preparation techniques. Cell and gene therapy is another hot research area still in its early stages, exploring new ways to treat diseases by engineering a patient’s cells or genes to attack pathogens. Bioengineering departments, university clinical research labs, and non-profit research institutes will all contribute demand from these research areas going forward.
Another high impact area of research in academia is advanced materials. Nanotechnology, polymers, materials science, and new fabrication methods such as 3D printing are also driving the sales of instruments and consumables purchased by these labs. Advanced materials research has many applications including military use, medical-grade materials, and environmentally-friendly biodegradable materials. Many of China’s initiatives aimed at enhancing its globally scientific standing will significantly impact lab instrument sales. China’s military is poised to someday rival the US and the Chinese government has strategically identified the research and development of advanced materials for aerospace, energy, and other related sectors. Nanotechnology-based materials, often with thin functionalized surface coatings, are another technology contributing to the development of advanced materials.
Quantum computing is the third key research area to keep an eye on in the near future. Quantum computing research utilizes new computing technology based on solid state binary hardware to displace the traditional silicon-based microprocessors. Quantum computing has also been a key area where China looks to be a world leader. The computers of the past have driven significant advances and the next generation of computer chips promises to have similarly strong impact on humanity. Crypto-technologies such as crypto currencies and other blockchain technology can greatly benefit from quantum-based computers. As computing demand and data continue to increase, the value of faster, stronger quantum computing technology will continue to expand, driving demand for instruments such as surface analyzers, AFM/SEM/TEM microscopes, and some spectroscopy instrumentation.
The Market Opportunity for Lab Instrumentation in Academia, recently published by SDI, captures the entire market for academia, including five-year forecasting across ten lab instrument categories, vendor share, demand by region, and more.