Press release

Pandemic delivers mixed fortunes for laboratory, analytics industry

October 20, 2020

The pandemic has resulted in an overall drop in revenues for global laboratory and analytics businesses, although some segments in the sector reported a spike in demand.

This is according to Mathis Kuchejda, Chairman of the German Industry Association for Analysis and Laboratory Technology, SPECTARIS, who was speaking during a virtual press conference ahead of the first ever 100% virtual analytica trade show, which takes place this week, and is free to attend.

Kuchejda said 41% of companies reported being in a worse business situation due to the pandemic, with challenges such as significantly lower demand, Corona-related staff shortages, a decline in investment activity and logistics problems. However, between 12 and 17% of businesses had experienced significantly higher demand and an increase in business activity. Compared to growth of 2.9% in 2019, the sector was now declining at -4.9% globally. He said it was interesting to note that advanced economies were declining by -8% in 2020, but expected a 4.8% recovery in 2021, while emerging markets had a -3% decline this year, and in 2021 they expected growth of 5.9%.

There were mixed fortunes depending on the line of business, he said. “Some making consumables saw an enormous increase, and have problems with capacity to meet demand. Consumables, PPE, sterilisers, virus diagnostics, cell analytics, research areas related to coronavirus, pharmaceutical research, and bioreactors and peripherals all saw increased demand.”

He said the coronavirus pandemic had brought about a number of long-term changes for the sector, with more than 25% saying they had adapted to digital working methods and over 20% having expanded their digital sales and service solutions. “However, only around 5% believe they need to completely change their business models. This is not surprising, given we are working in stable markets and we don’t just change business models overnight,” he said.

Dr. Peter Quick, Chairman of the Life Science Research Section (FALSR) of the German Association of the Diagnostics Industry (VDGH), said while 2019 was a challenging year for both the IVD and life science research sectors, a trend reversal was now taking place. “It’s fascinating to see how fast the trend reversal took place in Germany and the global trend is following,” he said.

He noted that the life sciences sector had responded quickly to the pandemic outbreak. “For example, the establishment of protocols and the production of reagents for nucleic acid extraction and qPCR were available within a very short time for the fast and reliable detection of SARS-CoV-2,” he said.

“The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are working flat out on the development of vaccines.” He also noted that many candidates in drug research were originally tested against other pathogens such as Ebola or Malaria. “Covid-19 offers a new potential field of medicinal applications for Remdesivir or Hydroxychloroquine,” he said.

The pandemic catalysed change not only in manufacturers and distributors in the sector, but also in the industry’s leading trade event. analytica, the world’s leading trade fair for laboratory technology, analysis and biotechnology, will now be staged 100% virtually from October 19 to 23, announced Dr. Reinhard Pfeiffer, Deputy Chairman of the Management Board of analytica producers Messe München. He said the pandemic had come as a setback for the event, initially scheduled to go ahead in March this year with a record number of exhibitors. Having postponed the event and envisaged a virtual component as a supplementary measure, analytica’s organisers had eventually opted to produce the event as a 100% virtual show. This change would allow for greater attendance from around the world, and would deliver virtually all the features and highlights of the real life exhibition and conference, he said.

Among the highlights will be a virtual exploration of the lab of the future. Dr. Felix Lenk, Head of the SmartLab Systems Research Group, TU Dresden, said the digital transformation track would highlight typical future workflows incorporating digitisation, automation, smart sensors, interlinks, data lakes, data processing and data interpretation.

Dain Richardson, Senior Exhibition Manager for analytica Lab Africa, says these trends will inform the development of the programme for Africa’s largest trade fair for laboratory technology, analysis and biotechnology, to be held in Johannesburg in July. “It is interesting to note the projected growth for emerging markets in 2021,” she says. “Although this year has shown that change can happen quickly, the team behind analytica Lab Africa is staying on top of the changing environment to ensure that the African event meets the developing needs of the industry in the continent and reflects the latest trends globally.”

analytica, the world’s leading trade fair for laboratory technology, analysis and biotechnology, will run from October 19 to 23 and will be 100% virtual this year and is free to attend to anyone, from anywhere in the world. analytica virtual replaces analytica Munich and will be accessible for 24 hours each day, so as to reach everyone interested from all time zones. Among other highlights, this event will feature 268 exhibitors from 24 countries in 323 virtual booths, live contacts with exhibitors via text, audio and video chat, 731 products from all areas of laboratory technology, analysis and biotechnology and 200 webinars from top experts.