Wavelength Tech Forum: Industry Trends

February 23, 2006

How is the spectroscopy industry doing this year? This month, our roundtable participants analyze trends in the industry based on their expertise. This month?s discussion includes John Carroll, managing partner at Cadrai Technology Group, and Emil Ciurczak, chief technical officer at Cadrai Technology Group, and member of Spectroscopy?s Editorial Advisory Board.

How is the spectroscopy industry doing this year? This month, our roundtable participants analyze trends in the industry based on their expertise. This month's discussion includes John Carroll, managing partner at Cadrai Technology Group, and Emil Ciurczak, chief technical officer at Cadrai Technology Group and member of Spectroscopy's Editorial Advisory Board.

How would you assess the current state of the spectroscopy industry? Do you see it growing rapidly, growing steadily, or perhaps shrinking?

Carroll: The spectroscopic instrument industry appears to be in a state of flux. Many promising application areas, such as the pharmaceutical industry's PAT initiative, are vertical in scope. The instrument industry's one-tool, many-uses bench instruments are designed for a horizontal fit, so both penetration and growth are limited.

Ciurczak: The market for traditional lab instruments is steady, but that of process-capable instruments is definitely growing rapidly, especially NIR, Raman and IR.

What applications are fueling the industry's growth right now?

Carroll: As I noted before, PAT is a good example. Essentially, the initiative calls for conversion to process-step conformity rather than definitive analytical answers. So the desirability for smart trend-analysis spectrometers is growing.

Ciurczak: That's simple: the same thing that has employed over half the people in pharmaceuticals for years: the FDA. With the promotion of PAT, the industry was given a jump-start.

In the future, do you see any new research and technological developments or up and coming applications that would enhance growth?

Carroll: Yes. Terahertz-region molecular spectroscopy is very promising for composite-material assessment. Cavity ring-down spectroscopy seems to be a good fit. Also, Raman is experiencing a strong resurgence.

Ciurczak: As biotechnology becomes more important, I see this as the arena for growth. This will push not only Raman, NIR, IR, and imaging, but chemometrics software, too. This will grow more than "small molecule" drug development in coming years.

Are research trends in the spectroscopy industry and in academia similar or different? How? Are they complementary to each other?

Carroll: In my view, only insofar as academia generates uses for new spectroscopy techniques, e.g. cavity ring-down, far-IR, etc. I see the instrument industry focusing on increased horizontal spread of existing technologies. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but the two venues don't really overlap much. It's not difficult to introduce a new commercial instrument technology, nor to sell the first hundred instruments. Sustainability of that product market and timely introduction of a companion product with a phased lifecycle is much more difficult.

Ciurczak: The spectroscopy industry is looking at speed and control, while academia is looking at smaller and smaller specimens. Do they merge? Of course. All research in academe filters down to industry eventually.

Do you think the president's proposed research budget increases will affect the industry? How?

Carroll: If federal funding flows to cohesive battery research-or to that matter for any portable power source-it would be a boon to the instrument world.

Ciurczak: As it was with Reagan, the funding increases are for military and Homeland Security. They will only marginally affect most industries.

Editor's note

Eileen Skelly-Frame of Full Spectrum Analytical Consultants would like to acknowledge the following individuals who contributed to her answers in last month's Wavelength: Geoff Tyler, HORIBA Jobin Yvon; Craig Seeley, Teledyne Leeman Labs; and Paul Gillyon, Thermo Electron.