April 4, 2019 -- The bioprocessing market is currently worth billions of dollars globally and is expected to increase 8.7 percent over the next five years. Pharmaceutical and biotech industries are the largest consumers of bioprocessing and their demand is expected to increase 9.3 percent over the next five years. Within these industries there are a limited number of vendors with the largest market share, including: Danaher (Pall & GE Life Sciences), MilliporeSigma (Merck Group) and Thermo Fisher. All of us probably have used products from one, if not all, of these companies at some point in our scientific careers. So the question is: how did these companies grow so large and gain dominance in the bioprocessing field?
The answer may lie in mergers and acquisitions. As scientists, we often forget that these companies have skin in the game and are in to make a profit. Similar to the tech industry, there are a large number of startups with a high rate of innovation and even higher rate of failure. Biotech startups are arduous, high-risk ventures requiring deep pockets and several years of product development to reach market. Competition in the field is extreme and the pressure is on to scale-up technologies, pass regulatory standards and clinical trials before the startup just down the road.
The bioprocessing giants recognize the value that startups and small biotech firms can add to their business. They are on the lookout for any way to speed time that they can move their products to market.To do this, they seek to acquire smaller companies or startups because they often possess emerging and disruptive technologies that will reduce costs, and optimize efficiencies and weak development pipelines. Large businesses feel pressure from customers to deliver faster, quicker, better and less expensive products. Over the last decade, this has lead to businesses transitioning from a “build-to-grow” to a “buy-to-grow” mentality. Once startups raise enough capital and prove themselves successful within their niche, larger players gain interest in purchasing them with the intention of scaling up.
The large biotech companies look to invest in companies that will enable them achieve end-to-end processing. The technologies and techniques must lend themselves to multi-product and flexible manufacturing facilities; must be able to use single use components; handle more efficient production of greater titers and yields; and mesh with continuous processing and automation techniques. Does this sound expensive? Yes! But the major players seem like they are willing to dish out some major cash to gain this advantage.
Just within the last year, there have been several notable large acquisitions in the bioprocessing space:
So what does all of this mean for scientists? You are part of the process and while it may seem daunting to transition from small scale to large scale, there could be potential to grow and watch your products make it all the way to market! Sell your value and skills within a new organization and it may propel you to a new level of success. I know it can be scary, but the big-time players have experienced success with this business model and so can you!
We want to know what you think about bioprocessing and biotech mergers and acquisitions.