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Among the Chinese companies that look promising, Bohui and Micropoint are two which have full capabilities for manufacturing their microfluidic-based products.

LYON, FRANCE: 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. The Chinese diagnostics market is currently dominated by large international companies such as Roche and Abbott, but new Chinese companies are rising up to compete with them.

Yole Développement (Yole), a market research and strategy consulting company, expects that the market for microfluidic-based products sold by Chinese players will grow at 28 percent CAGR between 2017 and 2023. The new report, Chinese Microfluidics Industry released on 4 July 2018, is showing a US$171 million market in 2017. According to Yole’s analysts, this market should reach US$754.1 million in 2023.

In this new microfluidic report, Yole proposes a comprehensive overview of the industry in China, taking into account real industrial concerns, all along the supply chain. Considering the Chinese and foreign players, this report details microfluidic applications and the associated ecosystem. Yole’s analysts identify local technologies and evaluate their ability to answer to the market needs. The differences between Chinese/Western players are also highlighted in this new report.

In addition to financial support, the Chinese government is recalling Chinese executives, researchers and engineers who have worked overseas for years in order to lead innovative Chinese companies and increase their chances of success. The goal is to compete with foreign industries and retake significant market share. 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 international giants’ position in the Chinese market.

“We are not there yet because performance and quality still don’t meet the expectations,” explained Sébastien Clerc, Technologies & Market Analyst, Microfluidics & Medical Technologies at Yole. “But the path to 2025 is long: China’s industry is improving rapidly and demand is growing quickly.”

China already has the world’s largest population, one which is ageing 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.

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.

Currently, quality is still inferior to what foreign companies can offer, but this could significantly change over the next five-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 (ie: Illumina), its aggressive pricing policy allows it to rapidly gain market share and make significant progress in terms of performance.

Like BGI, 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.

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