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Contract Research Organization (CRO) Services Market Size, Share & Industry Analysis, By Type (Early Phase Development Services [Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC), Preclinical Service, and Discovery], Clinical [Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, and Phase 4], Laboratory Service, and Others), By Application (Oncology, Neurology, Cardiology, Infectious Disease, Metabolic, Disorder, Renal/Nephrology, and Others), By End-user (Pharmaceutical & Biotechnological Companies, Medical Device Companies, Academic & Research Institutes, and Others), and Regional Forecast, 2024-2032

Last Updated: July 08, 2024 | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI100864



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The global contract research organization (CRO) services market size was valued at USD 79.54 billion in 2023. The market is projected to grow from USD 86.33 billion in 2024 to USD 175.46 billion by 2032, exhibiting a CAGR of 9.3% during the forecast period.

Contract research organization (CRO) services are involved in providing preclinical services, data collection services, clinical services, and others to biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies. Contract research organization (CRO) service providers help life science companies reduce the costs involved in the development and launch of novel therapeutics and medical devices.

Moreover, the emergence of new small and mid-sized pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies that have limited resources for conducting R&D by themselves has also been fueling the demand for contract research organization (CRO) services to outsource their R&D. In order to fuel this increasing demand for contract research organization (CRO) services, key market players have increased their focus on the adoption of advanced technologies to enhance their offerings.

For instance, in April 2021, Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC. (PPD), now a part of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., collaborated with Science 37, a clinical trial service provider, to use Science 37’s decentralized clinical trial Software as a Service (SaaS)-based technology platform to design, build, test, implement, and execute digital trials.

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in 2020, the contract research organization (CRO) services market experienced slow growth as many clinical trials were delayed. However, in 2021 and 2022, the market experienced significant growth due to the initiation of delayed clinical trials and increased demand for vaccines for COVID-19.

Contract Research Organization (CRO) Services Market Trends

Rise in the Outsourcing of Clinical Trials due to High R&D Cost Drive Market Growth

Due to the increasing demand for effective diagnosis and therapeutics, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies have increased their focus on R&D spending. This factor has been fueling the number of clinical trials being conducted globally.

  • For instance, as per the data published by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), R&D expenditure by pharmaceutical companies in 2022 experienced a growth of 7.2% to reach USD 46,792.8 million.

However, clinical trial studies can be very costly depending upon the type of indication, size of the study, and its duration. R&D expenditures can be high if the success rate of the study is low, as it may take more resources and take a longer period.  Rising drug development costs are one of the major reasons for the increasing spending on R&D.

Due to this, many biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry have increased their focus on outsourcing their R&D studies to contract research organization (CRO) services providers. For instance, in March 2023, ICON plc LEO Pharma partnered together to conduct clinical trials to develop new effective medicines for dermatology indications.

The emergence of contract research organization (CRO) services providers has been fueling the R&D studies sponsored by small and mid-sized companies at a significant rate.

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Contract Research Organization (CRO) Services Market Growth Factors

Increasing Demand for Cost-effective Treatment has been Fueling the Market Growth

The burden of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, neurological disorders, and others, has been growing significantly globally. For instance, per the data published by the American College of Cardiology Foundation in December 2023, cardiovascular diseases caused 19.8 million deaths globally in 2022, increasing from 12.4 million in 1990, similarly, as per the data published by Deutsches Ärzteblatt in 2023, as of December 2021, around 1.8 million people had dementia in Germany.

The growing burden of these diseases has been fueling the annual spending on diagnosis and treatment of these diseases. For instance, as per the data published by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 2023, in the U.S., spending on cancer was estimated to be USD 1,920.20 in 2015. This value experienced a growth of 10.0% and reached USD 208.90 billion in 2020. This cost includes cancer medical services and prescription drug costs.

The high cost associated with the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases is sometimes difficult for the population to cover, especially in low- and middle-income countries, leading to limited treatment options in such regions. Due to this, the pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies have increased their focus on the development and commercialization of new advanced and cost-effective diagnosis and treatment options. This factor has been fueling the outsourcing of R&D by life science companies for the development of cost-effective treatment options, thereby fueling the global contract research organization (CRO) services market growth.

Increasing Number of Clinical Trials to Boost the Adoption of Increased Outsourcing to Contract Research Organization (CRO) Services Provider

Clinical trials are essential for medication development processes all over the world. It helps discover novel treatments 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 the expected results. Clinical trials in the U.S. are comparatively less than those conducted in other nations worldwide. Many clinical trials are conducted outside the U.S. 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 the 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 during the forecast period.


Lack of Skilled Professionals to Restrain Growth of the 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 competency in job opportunities.

Contract research organization (CRO) services providers face issues attracting and maintaining highly competent experts as they compete for qualified and experienced scientists with biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical devices businesses, and academic and research institutions. Companies must offer better compensation and incentives to compete better, affecting the finances and outcomes of players, mainly small-scale analytical testing providers.

This scarcity of qualified specialists is a barrier to adopting novel procedures and technologies, restricting market growth. For instance, as per the data published by Labiotech in September 2023, there were more than 600,00 job vacancies in biopharma, indicating a labor shortage of 7.0%.

Moroever, skill development in the life science industry has not been delivered globally, resulting in gaps between the average working age group and basic literacy.

The limited adoption of knowledge and experience, along with the scarcity of the healthcare workforce, has been limiting the market growth.

Contract Research Organization (CRO) Services Market Segmentation Analysis

By Type Analysis

Early Phase Development Services Segment Dominated due to Rising Focus of the Lifesciences Companies on the Development of Advanced Products

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

The early phase development services are further segmented into chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC), preclinical service, and discovery. Similarly, the clinical segment is further classified into phase 1, phase 2, phase 3, and phase 4.

The early phase development services dominated the market in 2023. The dominance of the segment is attributed to the increasing focus of the market players on boosting the early phase development services for chronic diseases. For instance, in December 2022, Phastar entered into Lean Life Science’s Oncology Development Programme (ODP2) with the aim of identifying and fueling the R&D for academics and early-stage companies.

Moreover, the clinical segment accounted for the second-most major global contract research organization (CRO) services market share in 2023. The segment’s growth in the market is attributed to the emergence of small and mid-sized pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, which are focusing on the development of novel therapeutics.

Moreover, the laboratory service is expected to grow at a substantial CAGR during the forecast period due to increasing demand for laboratory services by healthcare companies with limited resources.

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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, neurology, cardiology, infectious disease, metabolic disorders, renal/nephrology, and others. 

The oncology segment dominated the market in 2023. The segment’s dominance in the contract research organization (CRO) services market is attributed to the growing focus of life science companies on the development of novel therapeutics.

  • For instance, in May 2023, PharmaMar launched its phase 1 clinical trial for its new molecule, PM54, for treating patients suffering from solid tumors. The first-in-human trial was conducted in hospitals in the U.S., Spain, and other countries.

Furthermore, the others segment accounted for the second most dominant portion of the market share in 2023. The growth of the segment is attributed to the growing burden of diseases such as digestive diseases, nutritional deficiencies, respiratory disorders, and others. Moreover, the growing funding by pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies for the effective therapeutic development of these diseases has been fueling the market growth.

  • In October 2023, Forbion, a life sciences company, was involved in funding Aiolos Bio, Inc. for conducting phase 2 clinical studies to study the safety and efficacy of drug candidate AIO-001, indicated for treating asthma.

Moreover, the neurology segment is expected to grow at a significant CAGR during the forecast period due to the increasing prevalence of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc.

By End-User Analysis

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

Based on end-user, the market is segmented into pharmaceutical & biotechnological companies, medical device companies, academic & research institutes, and others.

The pharmaceutical & biotechnology companies dominated the market in 2023. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are generally outsourcing the therapeutic and other product development functions to independent service providers to optimize the use of a more flexible cost structure and also avoid maintaining redundant development capabilities globally. This is driving the segmental growth.

Moreover, the medical devices segment is expected to grow at the fastest CAGR during the forecast period due to the rise in the number of registered clinical trials for medical devices. For instance, as per ClinicalTrials.gov, as of January 2022, approximately 40,901 clinical trials were registered for medical devices.


In terms of geography, the global market is studied across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Rest of the World.

North America Contract Research Organization (CRO) Services Market Size, 2023 (USD Billion)

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The North American contract research organization (CRO) services market was valued at USD 40.01 billion in 2023 and is expected to hold a leading share of the global market in the forecast period. Factors responsible for the region’s dominance include the important pharmaceutical companies located in the region, overall drug development activity, and 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 the global market in 2023 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. The high growth is mainly attributed to the surge in R&D activity and the growing shift toward outsourcing. Furthermore, low-cost resources in the Asia Pacific region are one of the major factors driving the number of clinical trials being conducted in the region, thereby fueling the market growth.

  • For instance, as per the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of clinical trials registered in Southeast Asia in 2022 reached 11,030, experiencing a growth of 48.5% from 2019.

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

List of Key Companies in Contract Research Organization (CRO) Services Market

Labcorp Adopts Merger & Acquisition Strategies to Bolster Portfolio and Strengthen Market Foothold

Labcorp Drug Development accounted for the major shares of the market 2023. The increased growth of the market was majorly due to the company’s strong focus on mergers and acquisition to upskill their services. For instance, in July 2021, Labcorp announced the expansion of its oncology portfolio by acquiring Omniseq. This acquisition upskilled the company’s contract research organization services portfolio.

Other key players, such as IQVIA, Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC, and ICON pIc, held significant shares in the market. This was due to their 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 service offerings.



  • February 2024 – Ergomed Group announced the expansion of its U.S. presence with a new office at Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  • February 2024 – Charles River Laboratories entered into a partnership with Wheeler Bio to expedite the progression from therapeutic discovery to manufacturing for its clients.

  • January 2024 – WuXi Biologics collaborated with BioNTech SE to discover investigational monoclonal antibodies for developing next-generation therapeutic product candidates.

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

  • December 2021 – Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings completed the acquisition of Toxikon Corporation. This acquisition bolstered the company’s strong non-clinical development portfolio.


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

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The global market report provides a detailed market analysis. It focuses on key aspects such as an overview of the 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 a regional analysis of different segments.

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Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Estimated Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period


Growth Rate

CAGR of 9.3% from 2024-2032


Value (USD Billion)





By Type

  • Early Phase Development Services

    • Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC)

    • Preclinical Service

    • Discovery

  • Clinical

    • Phase 1

    • Phase 2

    • Phase 3

    • Phase 4

  • Laboratory Service

  • Others

By Application

  • Oncology

  • Neurology

  • Cardiology

  • Infectious Disease

  • Metabolic Disorder

  • Renal/Nephrology

  • Others

By End-user

  • Pharmaceutical & Biotechnological Companies

  • Medical Device Companies

  • Academic & Research Institutes

  • Others

By Geography

  • North America (by Type, by Application, by End-user, and by Country)

    • U.S.

    • Canada

  • Europe (by Type, by Application, by End-user, and by Country/Country-Sub-region)

    • U.K.

    • Germany

    • France

    • Italy

    • Spain

    • Scandinavia

    • Rest of Europe

  • Asia Pacific (by Type, by Application, by End-user, and by Country/Country-Sub-region )

    • Japan

    • China

    • India

    • Australia & New Zealand

    • South Korea

    • Southeast Asia

    • Rest of Asia Pacific

  • Rest of the World ( by Type, by Application, and by End-user)


Bhushan Pawar ( Assistant Manager -Healthcare )

Bhushan is a seasoned professional with nearly a decade of experience in consulting and market re...Read More...

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 79.54 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach USD 175.46 billion by 2032.

Growing at a CAGR of 9.3%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period.

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

The increasing number of clinical trials and surge in the cases of chronic disease are some of the major factors driving the markets growth.

Labcorp and IQVIA are some of the major players in the global market.

North America dominated the market in 2023.

The surge in the outsourcing for R&D by the pharmaceutical organizations more efficiency and productivity are factors that drive the adoption of the service.

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