Will the Chinese microfluidics industry change the worldwide microfluidic landscape?
WITH AN EYE TOWARDS 2025, CHINA HAS LAUNCHED A DEEP TRANSFORMATION OF ITS INDUSTRIAL SECTOR
The Chinese government has created a strategic plan to comprehensively upgrade the country’s industrial sector and make China a major player that is independent from other countries. This plan, “Made in China 2025”, includes a focus on pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Companies involved in these sectors will benefit from almost unlimited funding by 2025, with the goal to compete with foreign industries and retake significant market share.
As a key tool for diagnostics and life sciences applications, microfluidic technology will surely benefit from this massive spend. Indeed, the chinese diagnostics market is currently dominated by large international companies like Roche and Abbott, but new Chinese companies are rising up to compete with them. The opportunity is huge for these emerging Chinese players, because the current domination of foreign players results in products that are considered too expensive and often way beyond reimbursement thresholds. Thus, Chinese players able to propose similar solutions at a lower price will seriously threaten these giants’ position in the Chinese market. We are not there yet because performance and quality still don’t meet the expectations, but the path to 2025 is long and China’s industry is improving rapidly. Moreover, demand is growing quickly: indeed, China already has the world’s largest population, one which is aging rapidly and thus needs improved care. Additionally, the end of the “one-child policy” has resulted in numerous births and an increased demand in areas such as non-invasive prenatal testing.
For all these reasons, the Chinese microfluidic market will be strongly impacted. Yole Développement (Yole)’s analysts expect that the market for microfluidic-based products sold by Chinese players will grow at a CAGR2017-2023 of 28%, from $171M in 2017 to $754.1M in 2023.
THE CHINESE MICROFLUIDICS INDUSTRY: A FAST-MOVING ECOSYSTEM
As a consequence of governmental support, numerous Chinese companies were recently spun-off from several universities. Starting from 2002, Government funding for microfluidic research and microfluidic companies has reached several tens of millions yuan per year, with a significant explosion in recent years. The government is also recalling Chinese executives and engineers who have worked overseas for years in order to lead these new Chinese companies and increase their chances of success. Market demand is growing, and students in microfluidics are being recruited before they even graduate.
Yole has identified 40+ Chinese companies involved in microfluidic device manufacturing and/or integration. Though a few companies (i.e. CapitalBio) have existed since the 2000s, most of these microfluidic companies have been around only a few years, and some of them already have products on the market. In fact, the timeline from company inception to product commercialization seems much shorter in China than abroad.
Today, the Chinese supply chain’s maturity is similar to what Europe and the USA’s supply chain resembled ten years ago: very few companies have full capabilities (from design and prototyping to mass manufacturing and back-end processing), and only a few projects reach mass production. However, China’s evolution should be much faster, and it won’t take the Chinese industry 10 years to catch up. The questions are: “What will be the first significant commercial success?” and “Who will be the Chinese versions of Cepheid and Abaxis, two American diagnostic companies that in the 2000s found success with microfluidic technology and were recently acquired by diagnostic giants?”
In this report, Yole’s analysts explain how China’s ecosystem may evolve over the next few years, whether foreign players can survive, and how some Chinese players are destined for big things.
CHINESE MICROFLUIDIC COMPANIES: A THREAT TO FOREIGN PLAYERS?
Among the Chinese companies that look promising, Bohui and Micropoint are two which have full capabilities for manufacturing their microfluidic-based products, and their position is clearly to propose alternatives to the diagnostic products sold by international giants. Such companies are growing well and finding success by proposing similar solutions to the international giants, but at a much lower price. Thanks to this strategy, some Chinese companies are beginning to attract foreign customers who cannot afford similar services at Western prices. Currently, quality is still inferior to what foreign companies can offer, but this could significantly change over the next 5 - 10 years.
Globally, this is the strategy of most Chinese microfluidic players, at all levels of the supply chain: propose “good enough” products or services at a low cost, gain contracts, and grow quickly. The most obvious example is that of BGI. The genomics company has released DNA sequencers over the past three years, first in China and now worldwide. Though BGI’s technology is said to still trail the field’s gold standard (i.e. Illumina), its aggressive pricing policy allows it to rapidly gain market share and make significant progress in terms of performance. Interestingly, numerous people share the same opinion: “BGI will kill Illumina”.
It may be too early to make such a bold statement, but one thing is sure: certain Chinese companies have the potential to be a real threat to Western players, which must find solutions to contest these Asian newcomers in their respective markets, at all levels of the supply chain.
This report details the current capabilities of more than 25 Chinese microfluidic players and furnishes 30+ company profiles detailing who these players are.
OBJECTIVES OF THE REPORT
- Publish a global vision of the Chinese microfluidic market, taking into account real industrial concerns along the whole supply chain, and considering Chinese and foreign players
- Identify microfluidics applications in China and understand the associated ecosystem
- Identify the local technologies and understand their ability to answer market needs
- Map players at each level of the supply chain
- Explain how Chinese players compare to Western players in terms of expertise, know-how, capabilities, and how they work together, and understand whether they can threaten Western players
- Examine how this ecosystem might evolve
- Provide 2016 - 2017 market data and furnish forecasts for 2017 - 2023
- Deliver a brief overview of China’s microfluidic IP landscape
- Provide company profiles for all identified Chinese players