A microbe is a minute living organism, such as a bacterium, yeast, or fungus. The first commercial applications of microbes date back to around 1750 BC, when the ancient Sumerians used yeast to brew beer. Microbes were used for centuries to produce bread, wine, vinegar and other common products—without anyone knowing the scientific basis for the ingredient.
The systematic study of microbes began in the 17th century with the work of scientists like Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek and Robert Hooke. However, the discipline known today as microbiology was not established until the late 19th century through the work of pioneers like Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch, Martinus Beijerinck and Sergei Winogradsky.
The technology related to microbial production of metabolites such as ethanol, lactic acid, butanol, riboflavin, etc. and enzymes such as protease, amylase and invertase were developed as early as the first few decades of the 20th century. Large-scale production of the antibiotic penicillin from Penicillium fungi was perfected during World War II and the microbial production of other antibiotics, amino acids, nucleotides, enzymes and such soon followed.
Today, genetically engineered microbes are used for the commercial production of nonmicrobial products such as insulin, interferon, human growth hormone and viral vaccines. Microbes are also used to produce energy (e.g., biodiesel and bioethanol) and to clean up environmental pollutants such as sewage and oil spills. As the active ingredient in biofertilizers and biopesticides, microbes contribute to increasing agricultural productivity, and microbes form the basis of cost-effective methods of mining and metallurgy
STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Yet all this seems to be only the beginning: The commercial possibilities of microbes are seemingly endless. However, intuition alone tells us that not all of these technological possibilities are likely to become commercial realities.
This report is an update of an earlier BCC Research report published in 2011. Its goal is to survey microbial applications in a wide range of fields based on the most recent data, identify the applications that appear to have significant commercial potential in the near- to mid-term and to develop quantitative estimates of their current and/or future sales.
The updated report’s specific objectives support this broad goal. These objectives include identifying microbial technologies and applications that have the greatest commercial potential in the 2013 through 2018 time frame, identifying market drivers, evaluating obstacles to their successful commercialization, and projecting future sales of each application.
This report is intended especially for biotechnology marketing executives, entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists and other readers with a need to know where the market for microbial technologies and products is headed over the next five years. Although the report focuses on specific technologies, it is largely non-technical in nature. That is, it is concerned less with theory and jargon than with what works and how much of it the market is likely to purchase.
As such, the report’s main audience is executive management, marketing, and financial analysts. It is not written specifically for scientists and technologists, although its findings concerning the market for their work, and by extension the availability of government and corporate research funding for different technologies and applications, should interest them as well
SCOPE AND FORMAT
This report addresses the global market for microbes and microbial products used in commercial applications during the period from 2012 through 2018. These applications include agricultural, healthcare, manufacturing, energy and environmental applications.
Viruses are sometimes classified as microbes, but this report excludes them because they are non-living.
The format of this study includes the following major elements:
- Description of microbes.
- End uses and applications of microbes.
- Recent technological developments.
- Market size and segmentation, 2012 to 2018.
- Company profiles.
- Key patents.
INFORMATION SOURCES AND METHODOLOGY
Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used in preparing this study. The findings and conclusions of this report are based on information gathered from developers, vendors, and users of microbial products for commercial applications. Interview data were combined with information gathered through an extensive review of secondary sources such as trade publications, trade associations, company literature, and online databases to produce the baseline market estimates contained in this report.
The base year for analysis and projection is 2012. With 2012 as a baseline, market projections were developed for 2013 through 2018. The projections are based on a combination of a consensus among the primary contacts combined with BCC’s understanding of the key market drivers and their impact from a historical and an analytical perspective.
The specific assumptions and the approach BCC used to develop the projections (both near/mid-term and long term) for each application are documented in detail under the various segments addressed. This way, readers can see how the market estimates were developed and, if they so desire, can test the impact on the final numbers of changing assumptions regarding matters such as the date of regulatory approval.
All dollar projections presented in this report are in 2012 constant dollars.
The author of this report is Andrew McWilliams. Mr. McWilliams, a partner in the Boston-based international technology and marketing consulting firm of 43rd Parallel, LLC, is the author of the previous edition of this report as well as several other BCC Research studies of the biotechnology and related industries, including BIO072A – Biotechnologies for Medical Applications: Global Markets; ENV006A – Global Markets for Hazardous Waste Remediation Technologies; BIO039B – Biosensors and Bioelectronics; and EGY055B – Building the Global Hydrogen Economy: Technologies and Opportunities.
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The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal or accounting advice, nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is of a speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or from its use.