Strategy #3. Enter Adjacent Markets

After a bit of a delay, we return to our series on strategies for competing in 2012.  Virtually all life science suppliers are investigating promising adjacent markets such as forensics, agriculture, biofuels, food/beverage manufacturing and environmental testing.

Forensic analysis of biological evidence using molecular methods is increasingly important in criminal investigations.  Analysis of proteins in blood and other body fluids and tissues has long been a staple of forensic analysis.  Promega has been especially proactive in targeting this adjacent market and hosts an annual conference on human identification that attracts hundreds of forensic scientists from around the world.  Life Technologies sees its core Sanger sequencing platforms at the beginning of their life cycle in in the forensics market.  Competing in this market, however, requires special expertise in securing competitive bid contracts with national, regional and municipal governments that vary widely in terms of budget, standards and technical expertise.

Agricultural research was has long utilized biotechnology techniques.  While not often commanding the same attention of life science suppliers when compared to human health, the agriculture market represents a logical market for expansion.  Affymetrix sees an attractive opportunity in agriculture where microarrays are commonly used in gene expression studies, microbial identification, transcription factor profiling and comparative genome sequencing.

Food safety and quality for the world’s fast growing population and the increasing globalization of food production is creating a new market for life science tools.  This market is also one in which regulatory compliance is becoming ever more stringent in all regions.  In mid-2010, Pall transferred its Food and Beverage business into its Life Sciences division because of the increasing similarities with its traditional biopharmaceutical customers.  In 2011, Pall scientists assisted national authorities in Europe in identifying the source of the deadly E. coli outbreak.  In March, the company’s GeneDisc Rapid Microbiology system was validated by the AOAC Research Institute for detection of non-O157 STEC in meat, positioning the company well in anticipation of new FDA guidelines for food safety passed in 2011.  PerkinElmer offers a full-range of analytical instrumentation for laboratories analyzing food safety and quality, as well as regulatory compliance and labeling regulations.  Danaher’s AB Sciex business released the AB SCIEX Allergen iMethod, a mass spectrometry-based method for detecting and measuring allergens in baked food products.