The medical devices industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increased need for homecare, preventative treatments, early diagnosis, reducing patient recovery times and improving outcomes, as well as a growing importance in technologies such as machine learning, augmented reality, 5G and digitalisation. In the last three years alone, there have been over 450,000 patents filed and granted in the medical devices industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Medical Devices: Flow cytometry instruments. Buy the report here.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

150+ innovations will shape the medical devices industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the medical devices industry using innovation intensity models built on over 550,000 patents, there are 150+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, neurostimulation therapy, smart physiotherapy devices, and real-time IR thermographic imaging are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Precision radiotherapy, electric atomisers, and bio-active prosthesis coating are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are bioresorbable stent coating and cryogenic tissue treatment, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the medical devices industry

Flow cytometry instruments is a key innovation area in the medical devices industry

Flow cytometry instruments or flow cytometers are used to analyse single cells in solution by exploiting their light scattering properties. Typically, a flow cytometer will use lasers to produce fluorescent and scattered light signals. Often in combination with fluorescently labelled antibodies, flow cytometers are used extensively by the in vitro diagnostics (IVD) laboratory for diagnosing disease.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of flow cytometry instruments.

Key players in flow cytometry instruments – a disruptive innovation in the medical devices industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to flow cytometry instruments

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Danaher 99 Unlock company profile
Amgen 76 Unlock company profile
Noul 67 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 32 Unlock company profile
Nikon 30 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 30 Unlock company profile
Hamamatsu Photonics 28 Unlock company profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 27 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 27 Unlock company profile
Essenlix 26 Unlock company profile
Sysmex 26 Unlock company profile
Olympus 25 Unlock company profile
Siemens 24 Unlock company profile
Alentic Microscience 22 Unlock company profile
Mycenax Biotech 20 Unlock company profile
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries 20 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 16 Unlock company profile
Bonraybio 16 Unlock company profile
ChemoMetec 16 Unlock company profile
Screen Holdings 15 Unlock company profile
Fresenius 14 Unlock company profile
Hologic 13 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 12 Unlock company profile
ChipCare 12 Unlock company profile
Philip Morris International 11 Unlock company profile
CellPly 11 Unlock company profile
Medical Photonics 10 Unlock company profile
NEC 10 Unlock company profile
Konica Minolta 8 Unlock company profile
VisionGate 7 Unlock company profile
Gastroklenz 7 Unlock company profile
Biotronik 7 Unlock company profile
Shimadzu 6 Unlock company profile
ASP Global 6 Unlock company profile
Sight Diagnostics 6 Unlock company profile
Yamaha Motor 6 Unlock company profile
aetherAI 6 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 6 Unlock company profile
Compagnie Merieux Alliance 6 Unlock company profile
Flagship Biosciences 6 Unlock company profile
Unisensor 6 Unlock company profile
XpertSea Solutions 6 Unlock company profile
Charles Stark Draper Laboratory 5 Unlock company profile
Epigem 5 Unlock company profile
Pelikan Technologies 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Danaher is one of the leading patent filers in flow cytometry instruments. Some other key patent filers in the field include Amgen, Noul, Sony Group, Nikon, Fujifilm Holdings, Essenlix and Hamamatsu Photonics.

In terms of application diversity, aetherAI leads the pack, followed by Gastroklenz and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. By means of geographic reach, Philip Morris International held the top position, followed by Essenlix and Amgen, respectively.

Flow cytometry systems are widely used in medical diagnostics for immunophenotyping, which is useful for leukaemia diagnosis, of CD4 cell identification, which is used to investigate recovery of the immune system in immunocompromised patients, such as HIV patients. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has incorporated flow cytometry into a list of essential IVD devices. While the technique has been in use for over 50 years, the potential applications in IVD are expanding. Additionally, technological advances are improving the performance of systems, and allowing more and more compact systems to be produced. 40 years ago, a flow cytometer would typically occupy an entire room. Now, bench top devices are available, with improved affordability, and allowing more access by more IVD laboratories.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Medical Devices.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.