2024 Trends in the Life Sciences Industry
- Jan 8, 2024
Following a year of uncertainty and volatility in the life science industry, the sector is expected to focus on technology, outsourcing, supply chain management, personalized medicine, preventative health care, and growth through mergers and acquisitions in 2024. This article will share insights on those trends.
According to the Horizons: Life Sciences 2023 report produced by CRBE, life sciences companies are optimistic about the future of the industry. The report surveyed just over 500 leaders from small, medium, and large companies across North America and Europe. The report also shows that 86% of respondents see a positive business growth outlook over the next three years.
Artificial intelligence (“AI”) and machine learning have been among the fastest growing sectors in the market over the past year and the life sciences industry is expected to embrace these new technologies for drug discovery and development. In addition, in the first quarter of 2024, there is anticipated to be significant investments to develop tools to enhance clinical trials, genomic sequencing, and personalized patient treatments. Finally, with regulatory compliance remaining a consistent challenge in the industry, the sector will leverage AI tools to enhance efficiency, mitigate risk, and reduce costs, thus allowing companies to focus on innovation.
On the heels of inflation and rising costs, companies have been cutting costs by automating and outsourcing some of their processes to third-party vendors, leading to a contraction in employment in the life sciences sector. Therefore, small and middle-market companies will continue to partner with contract manufacturing organizations (“CMOs”) and contract research organizations (“CROs”) for increased efficiency and cost savings.
Supply Chain Management
The COVID-19 pandemic put supply chain management inefficiencies under the spotlight and the life sciences industry was no exception. The limited supply of life sciences goods and products led to lost revenue and increased costs. Looking to 2024, companies are expected to be focused on streamlining supply chain management processes and there will be greater due diligence done on vendors to reduce supply chain risk factors such as geographic location, capacity, and regulatory restrictions. Further, companies are expected to invest heavily in supply chain management systems and technologies such as blockchain to enhance inventory management, drug development, and revenue pipelines. And finally, companies are expected to pay more attention to their cybersecurity and data protection policies to determine whether they are robust enough to minimize risks.
Patients will continue to demand more personalized treatments given the advancements in genetic research. Personalized medicine will be instrumental in helping to identify patients who are most likely to respond to a particular treatment and mitigate adverse side effects. Therefore, it is crucial that companies invest in infrastructure and technologies to meet the changing demands of their customers and provide tailored therapies to accommodate them.
Preventative Health Care
Rising health care costs are leading consumers to focus on preventive measures and demand for digital health technologies is rising. As a result, there is going to be an increased focus on developing new preventive health care products and solutions. More specifically, investment in gene editing technologies to prevent genetic diseases is expected to grow in the first quarter. In addition, as the population ages, products and therapies to support longevity and the quality of senior life will be more prominent.
Increased Mergers and Acquisitions
Following an all-time low for M&A activity in 2023, it is expected to rebound in the first quarter as investors focus on companies with unique product pipelines and strong financial fundamentals.
Further, valuations for entrepreneurial companies are also expected to rebound. The global biotech sector valuation decreased from $600 billion in early 2021 to around $200 billion in early 2023. Biotech companies raised $20 billion in equity and debt capital (excluding public bond issues) in 2023 Q1. This corresponds to a $80 billion run rate on an annualized basis. While this annualized volume is below that of the $175 billion raised in 2021, it’s worth noting that volume of 2023 year-to-date is roughly similar to what it was before the pandemic.
Investment into life sciences companies by venture capital and private equity funds continues to be strong, but deployment has slowed. However, smaller quantities of deals are being funded by investors, leaving many companies, especially early-stage companies, focused on preserving cash.
Overall, the life sciences industry is poised for continued growth and innovation in 2024. There has been a glimmer of hope that the IPO market will re-open given some late 2023 deals that were priced higher. The trends discussed above are just a few of the many ways that the industry is changing. Companies that are able to successfully adapt to these trends will be well-positioned to succeed.
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Brandon D. Smith
Brandon Smith is a Partner in the firm and has over 15 years of experience. Brandon assists clients with accounting, tax planning and business advisory services. He primarily focuses on high-net-worth individuals, closely held businesses, and not-for-profit organizations.
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