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The Europe contract research organization (CRO) services market size was valued at USD 19.68 billion in 2022. The market is projected to grow from USD 21.65 billion in 2023 to USD 39.55 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 9.0% during the forecast period.
Contract Research Organizations (CRO) are the companies that offer research-based services on a contract basis to pharmaceutical and biotech, medical device companies, and various government research organizations. These services include drug & devices research and development activities, such as CMS, preclinical research, clinical trials, post-marketing surveillance, laboratory, and early phase laboratory services.
Rapid technological advancements and growing urbanization in European countries are encouraging many biotech and pharmaceutical companies to outsource their research and development to many contract research organizations. Along with this, growing investments by the pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies in outsourcing the R&D services related to novel therapeutics is expected to boost the Europe contract research organization (CRO) services market growth during the forecast period.
Lack of Availability of Healthcare Resources Temporarily Hampered the Market Growth
The unprecedented pandemic slowed the growth of the market in the initial stages due to the lack of availability of healthcare resources resulting in a decrease in the number of drug development processes. However, in 2021, the market observed significant growth. An increase in the number of clinical trials and a surge in demand for novel and effective drugs due to the increased prevalence of chronic diseases were the key factors responsible for the growth of the market.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, market players in the pharmaceutical industry increased their focus on research and development and enhanced their manufacturing processes to expand their product offerings for COVID-19 diagnostics and vaccines in the region. In order to accelerate the R&D process, many pharmaceutical companies outsourced their drug development to CROs through partnerships and collaboration.
Furthermore, in 2020, European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the authorization of 97 new medicines and 39 new active medicines. This growth in the number of approved products in Europe is due to the rising investments by biopharmaceutical companies in the development of biologics and biosimilar.
The major players operating in the market reported a significant increase in revenues during the financial year 2020 due to the boost in the number of clinical trials being conducted. The overall impact of COVID-19 on contract research organization (CRO) services led to an increase in revenues of an estimated 3.4% in 2020, based on analysis of various parameters and interviews with KOLs.
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Growing Investment in R&D by Pharmaceutical, Biopharmaceutical, and Medical Device Companies is a Major Trend
Major pharmaceutical and biotech companies have been increasing their investment in resources for new drug and medical device development In addition, pharmaceutical companies are heavily investing in research and development initiatives. Major pharmaceutical firms are engaging in R&D to bring high-quality and innovative products to the market.
Increasing investments by major pharmaceutical and biotech companies in various clinical and non-clinical research activities led to outsourcing to CROs, helping in cost-effective drug development options. This would fuel the market growth. The trend relies on the fact that pharmaceutical and biotech companies are focusing on enhancing their R&D efficiencies through heavy investments.
Furthermore, the CRO services market players are focusing more on strengthening and expansion of their portfolio. For instance, In June 2019, Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, through its business segment Covance Drug Development, acquired Envigo’s nonclinical contract research services business to strengthen its nonclinical drug development capabilities. .
These new trends are expected to increase the development of new medications and technologies and significantly contribute to the growth of the Europe CRO services market size.
Rising Prevalence of Chronic Diseases to Propel the Market Growth
The prevalence of chronic diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and others has been increasing at a fast pace in Europe. For instance, as per the Globocan 2020 data, Europe accounts for 22.8% of the total cancer cases and 19.6% of cancer deaths, although it represents 9.7% of the European population. Furthermore, in Germany, the total number of prevalent cancer cases was 2,188,176 in the past 5 years. In 2020, in Germany the number of new cancer cases was 628,519, out of which 69,697 were reported as breast cancer and 67,959 were reported as prostate cancer. Moreover, as per European Brain Council, in 2021, around 10.5 million people had dementia in the region and this number is expected to reach 18.7 million by 2050.
This increased prevalence of chronic diseases has escalated the demand for the development of new treatments and resulted in increased outsourcing of drug development by pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies.
The occurrence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer is one of the major reasons for deaths in European countries, increasing the demand for new effective treatments, which is driving the market growth in Europe. For instance, according to the Office For National Statistics 2020 data, ischemic heart disease was the third leading cause of death in England, with around 51,979 deaths in 2020. Increasing demand for the launch of effective drugs is further anticipated to boost the market growth.
Strong Foundation for Biotechnology in Europe to Escalate the Market Growth
Europe has a number of established research institutions, medical centers, and hospitals that provide a solid basis for sourcing and developing scientific and clinical innovations. For instance, as per an article by Germany Trade and Invest, in 2019, around 500 pharmaceutical companies were located in Germany, which included domestic corporations as well as subsidiaries of international companies. The presence of such established players is expected to drive market growth in the region.
Moreover, one of the key strengths of the biotechnology sector in Europe is the increase in the amount of research and development initiatives by biotech companies. For instance, according to BioSpace, in 2018, there were 386 drug candidates in clinical development by the companies that participated, whereas in 2008, this number was only 178. For these companies, R&D investments, on average, were around an estimated USD 10.2 million.
Currently, many biotech companies are based in France, Germany, and the U.K. For instance, in 2019, according to an article by Leem, France ranked fourth in the EU in terms of manufacturing pharmaceutical products. Hence, the pharmaceutical sector is growing at a fast pace in European countries.
Furthermore, according to an article published by the Germany Trade and Invest in 2019, Germany ranked the world’s fourth-largest pharmaceutical market after the U.S., China, and Japan. Revenue in the overall pharmaceutical sector in Germany increased by 5.7% and reached a market value of USD 53.0 billion in 2019. This, in turn, drives the European market growth.
Lack of Skilled Professionals to Limit the Market Growth
Rising urbanization has accelerated the rate of invention and technology development in Europe. In terms of occupation, new opportunities are continuously being added. In addition, the growing industrialization and demand for new services have boosted the demand for new skill development. Individuals have been working on upgrading their skills to meet the requirements. The larger population competing for the same job opportunity has increased competency.
As CRO service providers compete for skilled and experienced scientists with pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device companies, and academic and research organizations, they also face challenges in attracting and retaining highly competent specialists. Companies, particularly small-scale analytical testing providers, must provide better compensation and other incentives to compete effectively, which affects players' finances and operational performance. The scarcity of qualified specialists could hinder the adoption of new technologies and procedures, limiting the market growth.
Despite the growing demand for innovative product development in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, experienced personnel is in short supply. For instance, as per the research carried out by Gatsby Foundation, the U.K. will require around 700,000 lab technicians to support the country’s economy by 2030.
Moreover, several countries in Europe have not successfully delivered skill development. According to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action 2019 survey, more than 50.0% of companies believe that a shortage of skilled professionals is the greatest threat to their business development. Most companies are severely affected by the scarcity of skilled workers. Companies say that the skills shortage poses a growing threat to their expansion.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 outbreak has significantly decreased the quality of new skill development due to the lack of resources, causing an increase in the crisis of skilled laborers. These factors are expected to restrict the market growth during the forecast period.
Clinical Segment Dominated the Market Owing to Growing Number of Clinical Trials
Based on service type, the Europe market is segmented into early phase development services, clinical, laboratory service, and others.
The clinical segment held the largest Europe contract research organization services market share in 2022 and is projected to expand at a substantial CAGR during the forecast period. The increased number of clinical trials being conducted in Europe is expected to drive the clinical segment growth. For instance, based on the Sofpromed article, Europe, along with U.S. and Asia, is the important region in the world where clinical trials are carried out. In 2019, 65,572 clinical trials were registered in the region.
The early phase development services segment is further categorized into chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC), preclinical service, and discovery. The preclinical segment held the second dominant share of early phase development in 2022. This is mainly due to a surge in the number of pharmaceutical companies partnering with CROs, having needed infrastructure and expertise for managing costs and deadlines. Outsourcing helps pharmaceutical companies in managing their finance by converting fixed and variable costs.
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Increased Prevalence of Cancer to Lead to Oncology Segment’s Dominance
Based on application, the Europe market is segmented into oncology, neurology, cardiology, infectious diseases, metabolic disorder, and others.
The oncology segment held a dominant market share in 2022 owing to the high prevalence of different types of cancer. Based on an article published in ACS Journals in February 2021, cancer is considered the leading cause of death and a key barrier to life expectancy in every country of the world. Also, based on WHO in 2019, cancer was the second leading cause of death for people aged below 70 in 112 countries out of 183 countries. Europe holds 22.8% of the total cancer cases and around 19.6% of the cancer deaths, representing 9.7% of the European population. These factors are eventually propelling the market growth.
The cardiology segment registered a substantial share in 2022 and is expected to exhibit a swift growth rate during the study period. Every year, around 3.9 million deaths in Europe and more than 1.8 million deaths in the European Union (EU) take place due to cardiovascular disease (CVD). The increasing prevalence of cardiovascular disease is driving the demand for contract research organization services for cardiology-related therapeutic areas in Europe.
Pharmaceutical and Biotech Segment to Dominate Due to the Increasing Outsourcing by Pharmaceutical and Biotech Industries
By end-user, the market is segmented into pharmaceutical and biotech companies, medical device companies, academic and research institutes, and others.
The pharmaceutical and biotech companies segment held the dominant share in the market in 2022. Pharmaceutical and biotech companies are generally involved in the outsourcing of therapeutic and other product development functions to independent services providers for optimizing the use of a more flexible cost structure and the avoidance of maintaining redundant development capabilities all across the world. This factor is driving the segment growth. An increased prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in patients belonging to the adult age group is further expected to favor segment growth.
The medical device companies segment is anticipated to expand at a comparatively higher CAGR during the forecast period due to the change in the older government regulation in Europe, which led to more outsourcing to the CROs and CMOs. For instance, based on the official journal of the European Union, the new EU Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) came into effect from May 2022. These new regulations aim to strengthen patient safety and ensure the benefit of patients using new devices.
Based on sub-region, the market is segmented into Germany, the U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia, and the rest of Europe. The U.K. dominated Europe market in 2022, and was valued at USD 4.53 billion. This can be attributed to the presence of a large number of CROs, together with a number of clinical trials that are registered in the country every year, and improvement in the European healthcare systems. There are various benefits of conducting clinical trials in the U.K. This comes as the country’s National Health Service (NHS) is rated as one of the best in comparison to other developed countries’ healthcare systems. In addition, secondary clinical research networks offer good infrastructure for supporting clinical research in the U.K.
The market size in Germany is projected to grow with the highest CAGR during the forecast period owing to the rising demand for effective contract research organization services in the country. Germany offers a vibrant and highly diversified contract research landscape. Moreover, the country is known for its excellent academic and clinical research, and it is considered Europe’s leading country in terms of the number of clinical studies conducted. This has increased the outsourcing of clinical trials by small and mid-sized pharma and biotech companies with an aim to reduce the overall costs. CROs in Germany offer expertise in preclinical and clinical R&D and therefore become strategic partners of these biopharmaceutical companies for the complete development pathway.
Continuous R&D Initiatives and Strategic Acquisitions by Key Players to Surge Sales
Europe contract research organization market landscape reflects a competitive scenario with the presence of a number of companies with diverse product portfolios. Strong presence of market players in the developed countries, and increased outsourcing by major pharmaceutical and biotech companies are factors that will lead to entry of domestic and regional players in the market. This is anticipated to make the competition landscape more price intensive, and the market players / suppliers loosing bargaining power.
Players engaged in drug therapy in the European market with considerable market share include IQVIA, Icon plc, Pharmaceutical Product Development, and Lab Corp Drug Development. Some of the other key players include PSI, PHASTAR, and Oy 4Pharma Ltd. These players specialize in the manufacturing of generic versions of various autism spectrum disorder therapeutics.
An Infographic Representation of Europe CRO Services Market
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The research report provides a detailed analysis of the market forecast, its current market size, and historical trends. It focuses on key points such as leading companies, service type, and leading segments of the service type and application. Furthermore, it offers insights into the market trends and highlights key industry developments, the impact of COVID-19 on the market, regulatory and reimbursement scenarios, and the prevalence of chronic diseases. Also, the report includes factors that have contributed to the growth of the market in recent years.
CAGR of 9.0% from 2023-2030
Value (USD Billion)
Service Type, Application, End-user, and Region
By Service Type
Fortune Business Insights says that the market was valued at USD 19.68 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 39.55 billion by 2030.
In 2022, the U.K. market size stood at USD 4.53 billion.
Registering a CAGR of 9.0%, the market will exhibit significant growth during the forecast period (2023-2030).
Based on service type, the clinical segment is expected to lead the market during the forecast period.
Rapid technological advancements and growing urbanization in European countries are encouraging many biotech and pharmaceutical companies to outsource their research development to many contract research organizations, which is expected to drive the market growth in the forthcoming years.
The major players include IQVIA, Icon plc, Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC, and Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings.
U.K. dominated the market in terms of share in 2022.
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