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Contract Research Organization (CRO) Services Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Service Type (Early Phase Development Services, Clinical, Laboratory Service and Others), By Application (Oncology, CNS Disorder, Cardiology, Infectious Disease, Metabolic Disorder, Renal/Nephrology and Others), By End-User (Pharmaceutical and Biotech Companies, Medical Device Companies, Academic and Research Institutes and Others), and Regional Forecast, 2022-2029

Region : Global | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI100864



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The global contract research organization (CRO) services market size was valued at USD 62.75 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow from USD 73.38 billion in 2022 to USD 163.48 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 12.1% during the 2022-2029 period. The impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and staggering, with experiencing lower-than-anticipated demand across all regions compared to pre-pandemic levels. Based on our analysis, the global market had exhibited a rise of 10.0% in 2020 compared to 2019.

CRO stands for contract research organization, which generally provides clinical management services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device manufacturers. Clinical trial management gets complicated due to many factors, such as sponsors, manufacturers, ethical committees, competent authorities, foundations, researchers, centers, and legal departments. Moreover, it is crucial to work under the guidelines of good clinical practices and harmonization guides, ensuring the unaffected quality of the study.

CROs' sources of revenue are generally from the R&D budgets of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device companies, governments, and other medical research entities. Similarly, the future revenue growth for the CROs can be attributed to overall R&D spending and growth in pharmaceutical R&D outsourcing. The increasing need for time-efficient and cost-effective drug development with high therapeutic expertise has increased demand for CRO services. In many cases, outsourcing R&D functions provide the opportunity to optimize internal cost structures by exploiting CROs' capacity, scale, and expertise. Therefore, increased outsourced penetration is anticipated in the clinical development and post-approval stages. Certain early-stage functions like safety assessment and regulatory-related services are also boosting the outsourcing trends, thus propelling the market's growth. The organizations collaborate with other companies to develop innovative products that help in their trial services.

For instance, in April 2021, Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC. (PPD) and Science 37 entered into the collaboration in which PPD would use Science 37’s Decentralized clinical trial SaaS-based technology platform to design, build, test, implement and execute digital trials. This factor would eventually help the organization in expanding its market share.


Accelerated Drug Development Efforts Augmented Market Growth during Pandemic

COVID-19 has had both positive and negative impacts on the market. During 2020 the market growth was slowed due to lockdown restrictions. But soon, the market observed the spike in its growth. The rise in CRO services market growth was attributable to the increase in the number of clinical trials, and increase in demand  for novel and effective drugs and vaccines.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies boosted their R&D and manufacturing processes to develop and distribute test kits, vaccines, and drugs against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. To accelerate the R&D process, many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have come together with CROs through long-term agreements, partnerships, and collaborations worldwide. For instance, in January 2021, ICON plc announced its partnership with Pfizer, Inc., and BioNTech to develop Pfizer and BioNTech's experimental COVID-19 vaccine program, providing clinical trial services.

Moreover, for COVID-19 research, CROs provide dedicated research. After the COVID-19 outbreak, many new services, partnerships, and collaborations worldwide with pharmaceutical companies and academic institutes for COVID-19 vaccine research and development were recorded.

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, the global market observed a significant increase in its market value due to the high demand for these services and increased revenue generated by the market players. For instance, IQVIA generated an estimated revnue of USD 13.65 billion in 2021, increasing 20.2% from the prior year.


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Growing Investment by Pharmaceutical, Biopharmaceutical, and Medical Device Companies to Boost Market Growth

Most pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and medical device businesses continue to put significant resources into developing new medications and technologies. The pharmaceutical business, in particular, is heavily investing in research and development to bring high-quality, innovative goods to market. Sponsors generally outsource therapeutic and other product development functions to independent services providers, which leads them to use a more flexible cost structure and avoid maintaining redundant development capabilities worldwide.

Increasing investments by many key businesses in clinical and non-clinical research activities and outsourcing to many contract research organizations services that help provide cost-effective development options are fueling the global market. The trend shows that the key pharma companies are enhancing their R&D efficiencies and collaborating on added R&D. The pharma R&D sector is changing as companies are looking to allow more people to work remotely and focus on making trial endpoints more patient-centric responsive. These new growth trends are expected to increase the development of new medications and technologies and substantially contribute to the market surge in the forecast period.


Rise in Prevalence of Chronic Diseases is Fueling CRO Service Market Growth

The global burden of chronic diseases is swiftly rising. For instance, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, chronic diseases accounted for approximately 60% of the world's 56.5 million documented deaths and 46% of the global disease burden. Based on an article from BMC Public Health in June 2020, WHO estimated that by 2020, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) would account for 80% of the global disease burden. Cardiovascular diseases account for more than half of all chronic disease deaths, while obesity and diabetes rise due to their widespread prevalence and earlier onset.

Chronic disease is a problem that affects people worldwide, not only in developed countries. Despite common belief, emerging countries are increasingly confronted with chronic disease-related public health problems. Based on WHO, in five of the WHO's six regions, chronic diseases account for most mortality. Infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, and other similar disorders are still prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, and this trend is predicted to continue.

Although worldwide healthy life expectancy has climbed gradually (by over 6.5 years) between 1990 and 2019, it has not increased as much as overall life expectancy in 198 of the 204 nations studied, indicating that people live longer in poor health. Based on a WHO article published in April 2021, around 77% of NCD deaths happen in low and middle-income countries. Cardiovascular diseases accounted for most NCD deaths, approximately 17.9 million annually. Number of deaths due to cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes were 9.3 million, 4.1 million and 1.5 million, respectively. The increasing prevalence of chronic diseases and rising awareness against these diseases has increased the pressure on the market players for the development of efficient medications and is expected to boost the market significantly. These factors, in turn, drive this market.

Increasing Number of Clinical Trials Resulting in Increased Outsourcing to CROs

Clinical trials are essential for medication development processes all over the world. It helps discover a novel treatment for diseases and new techniques for detecting, diagnosing and preventing disease development. Clinical trials offer the scientific foundation for guiding and treating patients and evaluating novel medications and equipment. Clinical trial results help direct the right direction even though researchers may not get expected results. Clinical trials in the United States are comparatively less than those conducted in other nations worldwide. Many clinical trials are conducted outside the United States and the European Union since it is often easier and less expensive.

Clinical trial success rates are highly dependent on the study's stage and the treatments or items being developed. Based on the article from Biotechnology Innovation Organization, only about 9% of medications make it through phase I to approval. Recently, the number of clinical trials that have been filed has risen significantly. Clinical trials have become increasingly sophisticated, yet they are still necessary to study and develop novel medications and technologies. This increase in the number of clinical trials is anticipated to boost the development of new drugs and is expected to drive the market's growth in the forecast period.


Lack of Skilled Professionals to Restrain Growth of CRO Services Market

The surge in globalization is boosting the rate of innovation and technology. New opportunities are constantly being added in terms of occupation. Furthermore, increasing industrialization and new services have increased the demand for new skills. This trend has also increased the competency in job opportunities. CROs face issues attracting and maintaining highly competent experts as they compete for qualified and experienced scientists with pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device businesses, and academic and research institutions. Companies must offer higher compensations and other incentives to compete effectively, impacting players' finances and operational outcomes, particularly small-scale analytical testing providers.

This scarcity of qualified specialists is a barrier to adopting new technologies and procedures, limiting the market's growth. Despite of the growing demand for innovative product development in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, the market has been experiencing a shortage of skilled labors. For instance, as per Labor Statistics, the U.S. market experienced lack of experienced workforce in 2019.   

Skill development has not yet been successfully delivered by many countries worldwide. There are gaps between the working-age population and basic literacy. For instance, based on World Bank, around 750 million people across the globe aged 15 and above are not reading or writing, making it 18% of the global population. Furthermore, the COVID-19 outbreak has significantly decreased the quality of new skills development, causing an increase in the crisis of skilled laborers. These factors, as mentioned earlier, are expected to restrict the market growth during the forecast period.


By Service Type Analysis

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Clinical Segment Dominated Global CRO Services Market due to Rising Number of Clinical Trials for Chronic Diseases

By service type, the market is divided into early phase development services, clinical, laboratory services and others.

The clinical segment held significant share of the global market in 2020. This is attributed to the high prevalence and rise in the number of chronic disease cases. Also, the growth in outsourcing R&D activities in the biotechnology & pharmaceutical sector is propelling this market.

The early phase development services segment is estimated to expand at a comparatively higher CAGR during the forecast period. This is because of the increasing investment in the development of life-saving drugs. 

By Application Analysis

Oncology Segment to Dominate Led by Continuous Development of Cancer Treatment Solutions

Based on application, the market can be segmented into oncology, CNS disorder, cardiology, infectious disease, metabolic disorder, renal/nephrology, and others.

Oncology has the highest market share as there is advancement in research and technology, and there is more focus to address broader global disease threats such as oncology. The stringent regulatory protocols and burdensome penalties for non-compliance have also increased the duration, cost, and complexity of clinical trials. It has been observed that the most active and fastest-growing therapeutic area for the CRO is oncology, and it is representing the single most considerable focus in clinical development at present.

CNS Disorder has the second-highest CAGR due to the growing prevalence of Alzheimer's disease, dementia and Parkinson's disease. 

By End User Analysis

Pharmaceutical Biotech Companies to Hold Dominant Share Backed by Increasing R&D

Based on end-users, the market can be segmented into pharmaceutical and biotech companies, medical device companies, academic and research institutes, and others.

Pharmaceutical and biotech companies have the highest market share as the pharmaceutical sponsors are investing more in R&D and outsourcing a larger portion of R&D to independent service providers. Based on Credit Suisse, only 41% of the clinical development was outsourced in 2016. It was anticipated to increase to 50% in 2020 because the cost and complexity of the development increases in onerous reimbursement and regulatory environment as using CRO partners these pharmaceutical organizations seek more efficient solutions. 

CROs for medical device is also growing at a faster pace. Management of medical technologies and fresh developments in healthcare by the CRO service providers has increased the CRO market size share for medical devices.


North America CRO Services Market Size, 2021 (USD Billion)

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In terms of geography, the global market can be categorized into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Rest of the World.

The North America market was valued at USD 31.97 billion in 2021 and is expected to held major shares of the global market in the forecast period. Factors responsible for the region’s dominance includes the important pharmaceutical companies located in the region and their widespread drug development activityand good healthcare infrastructure.  Pharmaceutical organizations have increased their focus on outsourcing clinical trials to treat different disease conditions. Also, these organizations are investing more in R&D activities.  

Europe was the second largest region in CRO services market globally in 2021 and is estimated to hold this position during the forecast period. . This is due to the surge in the incidence of diseases. Based on the article from Strategic Policy Group, the number of older people aged 65 years or more in the region would increase significantly, rising from around 90.5 million in 2019 to 129.8 million by 2050. Moreover, healthcare expenditure is surging, and pharma companies depend more on contract research organizations to offer more efficiency and productivity.

The Asia Pacific market is projected to grow at the fastest CAGR . According to Frost and Sullivan, the estimated number of clinical sites set up by the biotechnology companies in the Asia Pacific is increasing by more than 40% every year compared to 11% in the rest of the world. The growth is as high as 79% in China from 2016 to 2018. Moreover, Asia has around 59% of the global population, making it an attractive region for clinical trials.

The market in Rest of the World is expected to hold limited share in the market during the forecast period. However, increasing healthcare expenditure in the countries in rest of the world  is expected to boost CRO services market growth.


IQVIA’s Strong Focus on R&D for Introduction of New Services to Bolster Portfolio and Strengthen Market Foothold

IQVIA, accounted for the major shares of the market 2021. The increased growth of the market was majorly due to the strong focus on R&D to introduce new solutions and to upskill their services.

  • For instance, in November 2021, IQVIA announced about data aggregation strategy as the foundation to optimize the market insights. It helped the company to harness the right data and services to optimize the patients. This increased the efficiency of the company’s services.

Other key players such as Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC, and Ic held significant shares in the market. This was due to its strong focus on R&D to expand its product offerings and strengthen its global presence. Furthermore, companies are also focusing on incorporating new technologies such as artificial intelligence to increase the efficacy of their services offerings.


  • Iqvia (U.S.)

  • Laboratory Corporation Of America Holdings (U.S.)

  • Novotech (Australia)

  • Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC (Thermo Fisher Scientific) (U.S.)

  • Medpace Holdings, Inc. (U.S.)

  • Icon plc (Ireland)

  • KCR SA (U.S.)

  • PSI (Switzerland)

  • Parexel International Corporation (U.S.)

  •  Syneos Health (U.S.)

  •  WuXi Biologics (China)

  •  Worldwide Clinical Trials (U.S.)

  •  Ergomed plc (U.K.)

  •  dMed Global (U.S.)

  •  Hangzhou Tigermed Consulting Co., Ltd (China)


  • December 2021 –Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. completed the acquisition of Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC. This acquisition enhanced the key services  and offerings of the company..

  • November 2021 – In November 2021, Iqvia announced about data aggregation strategy as the foundation to optimize the market insights. It helps to harness the right data and services to optimize the patient. This increased the efficiency of the company’s services.


An Infographic Representation of Contract Research Organization (CRO) Services Market

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The global CRO Services market research report provides a detailed market analysis. It focuses on key aspects such as an overview of this market, penetration of outsourcing in R&D and key countries, pricing analysis. Additionally, it includes key industry developments such as mergers, partnerships, & acquisitions, the impact of COVID-19 on the market, and brand analysis. Besides these, the report offers insights into the market trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the aforementioned factors, the report encompasses several factors that have contributed to the growth of the market over recent years. The report also covers regional growth analysis of different segments. 

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Estimated Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



Value (USD billion)


Service Type, Application, End-User, and Region

By Service Type

  • Early Phase Development Services

    • CMC

    • Preclinical Services

    • Discover

  • Clinical

    • Phase 1

    • Phase 2

    • Phase 3

    • Phase 4

  • Laboratory Service

  • Others

By Application


  • Oncology

  • CNS Disorder

  • Cardiology

  • Infectious Disease

  • Metabolic Disorder

  • Renal/Nephroology

  • Others

By End User

  • Pharmaceutical and Biotech Companies

  • Medical Device Companies

  • Academic and Research Institutes

  • Others

By Region

  • North America (the U.S. and Canada)

  • Europe (U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia, and the Rest of Europe)

  • Asia Pacific (Japan, China, India, Australia & New Zealand, South Korea, Southeast Asia, and the Rest of Asia- Pacific)

  • Rest of the World

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the Contract Research Organization Services market was valued at USD 38,396.4 Mn in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 90,926.3 Mn by 2026

Growing at a CAGR of 11.4%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2019-2026)

Clinical segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.

Increasing number of mergers and acquisition, higher demand of novel drug discovery, availability of skilled labor are few of the driving factors of Contract Research Organization market.

IQVIA, Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, and Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC. are the top players in the market.

North America is expected to hold the highest market share in the market.

Higher investment in contract research organizations combined with rising adoption of key companies relying on the specialized CROs for clinical trials are some of the trends of Contract Research Organization Services Market.

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