January 15, 2012 (Vol. 32, No. 2)

2012 Budget Trends Indicate Recession-Proof Segment

The biopharmaceutical manufacturing sector may be even more recession-resistant than other healthcare areas. Budget estimates for 2012 are, once again, up strongly for acquisition of new technologies, capital equipment, and training.

In fact, early returns from respondents to BioPlan Associates’ 9th Annual Report and Survey of Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Capacity and Production are projecting increases in all 12 areas measured in 2012, except for outsourcing. This budget bump clearly indicates a healthy continuation of investment and spending trends seen over the previous three to four years (Figure).

In BioPlan’s survey, responses from hundreds of biomanufacturers/CMOs in 31 countries, as well as over 100 vendors to the industry, show that technology and productivity-related investments top the spending and budgets this year. The study covers new product needs, budget changes, capacity constraints, disposables, downstream purification, quality management, hiring issues, and others. Spending is occurring in:

  • New technology
  • Capital equipment
  • Process development and optimization
  • Personnel training and development

Budgets for new capital equipment took one of the biggest jumps, growing from -0.6% in 2009, to +6% last year, and again to over 6% this year. While in previous years, this may have been the result of latent demand as equipment wore out for replacement, after three straight years of investment we expect this is the result of demand for more efficient facilities and long-term capital investments.

This year, we are finding that companies are continuing to build their organizations but are doing so more strategically. In fact, “Operations staff training to improve efficiency” ranked fourth again this year, suggesting that funding for ongoing staff improvements is likely to continue.

Across all departments, budget trends are a leading indicator of how constraints have loosened, especially for expenditures that improve process performance.

Biopharma Vendors

In addition to biopharmaceutical manufacturers, the survey separately evaluates spending and technology among hundreds of biopharma vendors and suppliers. In 2012, from preliminary data, we find most vendors’ budget categories will continue to grow significantly, as will their overall sales to the segment.

Further, biopharma vendors are investing in R&D for the right new products that are being demanded by their biopharma customers. This year, of the 38 new product areas that vendors are developing, the top areas include:

  • Bioprocess development and optimization services (bioprocess modeling) 35.8%
  • Disposable/single-use bags/films 34.3%
  • Disposable/single-use bioreactor bags/consumables 32.8%
  • Chromatography, alternatives to protein A  26.9%
  • Disposable/single-use filtration 22.4%
  • Sensors and probes 17.9%

Many areas of new product development and R&D were indicated in this year’s study. The top groupings align well with the industry’s explicit demands, including areas associated with downstream processing, chromatography, and single-use downstream devices. On the upstream side, new bioreactor technologies, disposable/single-use devices, and monitoring equipment are being invested in and developed. In addition, services associated with upstream bioprocessing are in high demand and are being evaluated by vendors.

Eric S. Langer ([email protected]) is president and managing partner at BioPlan Associates. Web: www.bioplanassociates.com.

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