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 growing importance of technologies such as machine learning, augmented reality, 5G and digitalization. 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: Microfluidic sampling devices.

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

Microfluidic sampling devices is a key innovation area in the medical devices industry

A microfluidic device is a miniaturized system that uses a small volume of fluid samples on a microchip to perform routine clinical laboratory tests and diagnose medical conditions. This lab-on-a-chip approach will replace traditional diagnostic laboratories as it reduces sample and reagent requirements, bioassay duration, and the cost of testing. Due to the ease of handling and low power consumption, this technology would also allow for a precise diagnosis at a faster response time due to the parallelization of various analyses on the same chip simultaneously.

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 50+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of microfluidic sampling devices.

Key players in microfluidic sampling devices– 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 microfluidic sampling devices

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Becton Dickinson and Co 434 Unlock company profile
Labrador Diagnostics 77 Unlock company profile
Sanofi 65 Unlock company profile
Magnolia Medical Technologies 58 Unlock company profile
Atomo Diagnostics 51 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 49 Unlock company profile
Thorne Research 42 Unlock company profile
PHC Holdings 32 Unlock company profile
Cue Health 26 Unlock company profile
ChipCare 25 Unlock company profile
Takeda Pharmaceutical 22 Unlock company profile
Sekisui Chemical 21 Unlock company profile
Sarstedt 19 Unlock company profile
E. Merck 19 Unlock company profile
First Light Diagnostics 18 Unlock company profile
OPKO Health 17 Unlock company profile
Weavr Health 17 Unlock company profile
Axcel Management 17 Unlock company profile
FABPulous 15 Unlock company profile
Shimadzu 12 Unlock company profile
Quidel 12 Unlock company profile
Sinocare 12 Unlock company profile
InMat 12 Unlock company profile
Greiner 12 Unlock company profile
Danaher 11 Unlock company profile
Scryb 10 Unlock company profile
Boditech Med 10 Unlock company profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 10 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 9 Unlock company profile
Horiba 9 Unlock company profile
Biosynex 9 Unlock company profile
Talis Biomedical 8 Unlock company profile
LifeAssays 7 Unlock company profile
Teleflex Medical 7 Unlock company profile
Trajan Group Holdings 7 Unlock company profile
Apple 7 Unlock company profile
Radisens Diagnostics 7 Unlock company profile
Tosoh 6 Unlock company profile
Terumo 6 Unlock company profile
STMicroelectronics 6 Unlock company profile
CommonSpirit Health 6 Unlock company profile
Nikkiso 6 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 6 Unlock company profile
AVIVA Biosciences 6 Unlock company profile
I-Sens 6 Unlock company profile
Bruker 5 Unlock company profile
Buhlmann Laboratories 5 Unlock company profile
Micro Blood Science 5 Unlock company profile
IMEC, VZW 5 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Becton Dickinson and Labrador Diagnostics are two of the leading patent filers for microfluidic sampling devices. Some other leading patent filers include Sanofi, Magnolia Medical Technologies and Atomo Diagnostics.

In terms of application diversity, AVIVA Biosciences leads the pack, followed by Labrador Diagnostics and Tosoh. By means of geographic reach, FABPulous holds the top position, followed by PHC Holdings and LifeAssays in the second and third spots, respectively.

Microfluidic sampling devices can be used in various biomedical applications as the technology demonstrates the potential for automation, high-throughput processing, and control with high-level system integration for improved imaging and monitoring in real time. These lead to precise diagnosis and accurate treatment of patients. Future advancements in microfluidics in the medical field will drive the market for diagnostics as well as drug development.

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


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.