The global market for microplates is basically split in half: with 50% of low- to medium-volume microplate-based assays are performed using 96- or 384-well formats, and the other 50% of the market (primarily in pharma for high- and ultra-high throughput screening) in 1536- and 3456-well formatted plates. The primary assay platforms for research tend to focus on the 96- and 384-well platforms using workstations to allow for speed of deployment, lower cost, and test flexibility for test volumes of up to 50,000 daily. Larger laboratories favor larger-scale robotics, with state-of-the-art liquid handling and dispensing systems to use denser 1536- and 3456-well plates and achieve in excess of 250,000 tests per day. Common specifications based upon the ANSI-SLAS dimensional standards ensure compatibility with all existing laboratory semi- and fully-automated, and expensive HTS laboratory equipment.
The overall microplate market size is estimated in 2016 at about $636 million with almost 160 million plates produced. Expected growth rates are projected to exceed 4.0% Combined Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) through 2023 (PR Newswire, Research & Markets, Persistence Market Research). This places the total market size for iFluidics’ at least $300 million and 80 million plates for the 96- and 384-well configurations. Recognizing that the US/Canada research and diagnostic market is over 55% of worldwide use, based upon iFluidics’ target market penetration of 5%; this would result in annual sales of 2+ million iPlates, even before the anticipated overseas expansion.
With over 10 billion biochemical assay tests performed worldwide each year; there is a need for both new and replacement equipment and the chemicals and reagents necessary to conduct testing. The global combined markets involving liquid handling and detection equipment (this market is estimated to exceed $4.5 billion in 2016 by Persistence Market Research), and the global use of chemicals and reagents in excess of $35 billion; iFluidics reasons that there is significant industry cost reduction pressures. Per industry sources (www.labmanager.com) laboratory cost breakdown is approximately 16% reagents/kits, 16% chemicals, and 16% consumable plastic supplies. iFluidics’ product offerings have demonstrated up to 85% cost-per-well reductions in 96-well formats with estimates of over 80% savings using a 384-well format (see Table 5). This order of magnitude in cost reduction is anticipated to be extremely attractive in both life sciences research and diagnostic markets. A typical mid-sized laboratory company that spends $50 million in reagents, chemicals, and microplate stands to save almost $40 million. This potentially significant cost savings will be especially attractive to cellular research activity with cost-per-well reagent use estimated at $5-$10 (per a study by the American Journal of Cell Physiology).
Customers' behavior is dependent on the size of the lab and the type of activity. Normally, a standardized selection of products is made available to scientists/laboratory technicians through centralized purchasing organizations. Contracts and pricing of volume purchases of large quantities of microplates and bulk reagents separately or in kits consisting of buffers, assay-specific reagents, and (coated) microplates, are established either directly from the selected manufacturers or through existing independent or captive distributors. In the research market, there is more flexibility for scientists / lab technicians to select specific supplies to conduct activities; and a product that reduces cost while decreasing evaluation delays will be very attractive. iFluidics intends to target select influential scientists and purchasing decision-makers to include the iPlate Platform and iPlates in the available product selections. Additionally, by focusing on smaller to mid-market research organizations, we feel confident that adoption will be more rapid than spending efforts at larger and possibly less flexible companies.
Sales channels are also moving towards automated web-based fulfillment processes. Our intent is to establish both direct sales using a missionary approach with replenishment able to be conducted directly or indirectly using website-based applications. Additionally, we anticipate linking to our outsourced manufacturing partners to direct fulfillment as product sales grow.
Bio Assay Testing
The most important BAT improvement areas are (in decreasing order)
1. increasing sensitivity
2. reducing sample /reagent consumption
3. reducing assay times
4. applicability to low-abundance targets
5. increasing throughput
While some recent BAT advances have addressed some of these areas to some degree, they have failed to reduce the substantial incubation times and/or require the customer to adopt a new platform/assay format—usually at significant cost. The iFluidics technology is a game-changing technology that we expect to provide dramatic improvements in all of the areas mentioned—in the widely used 96-well and 384-well formats—significantly reducing cost-per-well.