While the in vitro diagnostic sector plays a key role in the healthcare pathway, it still lacks structure. “The sector has a lot of innovation potential, and the health system should give it the recognition and appreciation it deserves. It must become stronger so that it can grow and expand internationally,” says Laurent Garnier, diagnostic project manager at Eurobiomed.
The national map of in vitro diagnostic manufacturers was drawn up jointly by the competitive clusters Eurobiomed, Lyonbiopôle and Medicen Paris Region, the national network of healthcare clusters, the SIDIV (the French in vitro diagnostic industry association) and several manufacturing firms in the sector (bioMérieux, HalioDx, MagIA diagnostics, Stago, and Stilla Technologies). They consist of 260 firms, employing almost 18,300 people. Together, they drew up a set of questions, which was then submitted to their members.
The questions related to the size of the firms, their location, the number of people they employed, their revenues in 2019, their activities (R&D, production, distribution, service provision), their core business (automation, biomarker research, the development of diagnostic kits and the production of reagents), and the cluster to which they belonged.
“We are going to work together to unite the in vitro diagnostic manufacturing sector, support changes in the sector, and attract investors”, says Laurent Garnier, ecosystem project manager at Eurobiomed (Southwest France).
The map shows that 91% of the firms in the sector are SMEs or microbusinesses. The majority of these small firms are not really involved in manufacturing. Most of them are still in the R&D phase. Only half have reached the production phase. “Bringing a product to market is a long and complicated process,” observes Laurent Garnier. “Some firms say that it can be easier to sell their products abroad than in France.”
In terms of strengths, the project manager points to the vitality of the competitive clusters, the innovation in the sector, and the rise in public awareness, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic and the large-scale roll-out of screening tests.
In 2021, the French government also made clear its intention to inject new vitality into the sector by signing an amendment that adds in vitro diagnosis to its strategic contract. Eurobiomed is covered by this contract as a healthcare cluster. This government initiative aims to boost industrial competitiveness in several strategic areas, including healthcare.