The market for biophotonics technology and products is large and growing rapidly. Actual estimates are based on the larger photonics and optoelectronics markets, as many of these products have crossover uses in the biomedical field. Also, since biophotonics is largely used in medical imaging, a good portion of the potential for growth in the market is being fueled by growth in the imaging markets.
According to Kalorama Information’s estimates, the global potential market for biophotonics stands at $19 billion this year and by 2012 will “hockey stick reach” $190 billion by 2018. The U.S. market represents a good chunk of this market, accounting for about $16 billion this year.
The number of clinical and biological applications of biophotonics is expanding rapidly, leading to unprecedented growth.
Growth is driven in large part by finding new applications or re-engineering existing technologies, and it is therefore not dependent on the slow development of enabling technologies. Biophotonics technology will augment and replace many current technologies in research, in vitro diagnostics, imaging, and even therapeutics. The speed and performance of biophotonics approaches in these fields is expected to induce rapid replacement of existing products, as well as continuous technology upgrades once advanced biophotonics systems become available.
Moreover, the market base is large, consisting of research labs in institutes, universities, and hospitals. Clinical laboratories, more cost-conscious and less likely to adapt new technologies in any field these days, are expected to follow. The application of biophotonics in clinical labs may initially be limited because the technology provides such detailed and unique data that its utility is not yet clearly apparent and established. Eventually, biophotonics will provide the pathway for such clinically useful activities as personalized medicine.
As the biophotonics market grows, the number of competitors is increasing rapidly, apparently with little stress on the industry. Only two years ago, the number of companies focusing specifically on biophotonics was limited, but that figure has increased at least fivefold in recent years and is still growing.
There are literally hundreds of companies involved in the photonics business and virtually all of them have products that can be used in biophotonics. The vast majority of these are small companies that are lighter on their feet and better suited for an industry with such a fast-paced technology. With low barriers to entry, larger companies will face fierce competition from smaller businesses, which will jump at the opportunity to meet the vast need for new technologies and applications in biophotonics. The large and expanding market guarantees that there will be strong interest in the field going forward.