Microplate readers able to read multiple detection modes (i.e. multi-mode) have been around for about 2 decades now and are a very common sight in today’s pharma, biotech and academic research laboratories. The first multi-mode (MM) microplate readers offered up to 5 detection modes (typically absorbance, fluorescence, time-resolved fluorescence, time-resolved FRET and glow luminescence). Today anything up to 13 different read modes can be specified on the latest generation of MM plate readers. The evolution of MM plate readers has been one of adding new modes together with enhancing the specifications of the hardware (e.g. sensitivity, read time, microplate density) and increasing the flexibility of the software. In recent years, this evolution has the taken the form of adding injectors, filters plus monochromators, Alphascreen, label free, and now gas control modules and microscopic well imaging. In a market where there was little to differentiate individual MM plate readers, brand loyalty, price and service have all featured highly in purchasing decisions. More recently, the availability of specific read modes or unique features have contributed to the choice of a specific MM plate reader, particularly where those features may be absent from competitive products. In this article we explore end-user opinion of some the new features available on MM plate readers and their potential influence on purchasing decision for a new MM plate reader.
In October 2015 HTStec undertook a market survey on multi-mode (MM) microplate readers focused on research labs in pharma, biotech and academia. The study was initiated by HTStec as part of its ongoing tracking of this life science technology and marketplaces, and to update and extend HTStec’s previous MM microplate reader report published in September 2013. The main objectives of this global benchmarking study were to comprehensively document current end user experiences, preferences and likely future requirements for MM plate readers. A focus of this report update was on what influences future purchasing decisions and the use of new/emerging read modes/application areas. This article contains ‘selected findings’ from the HTStec market report, Multi-Mode Microplate Reader Trends 2015. It is intended to provide the reader with a brief insight into recent market trends. It covers only 13 out of the 34 original questions detailed in the full report. The full published report should be consulted to view the entire dataset, details of the breakdown of the responses for each question, its segmentation and the estimates for the future. Please click here for more information.
Please note this article is focused exclusively on MM plate readers. It does NOT include or discuss single mode plate readers (e.g. absorbance only readers or micro-volume readers), or plate imagers (e.g. PerkinElmer ViewLux, Molecular Devices FLIPR or Hamamatsu FDSS).
Vendor Most Strongly Associated With MM Plate Readers
Figure 1. Vendors Respondents Most Strongly Associate With MM Plate Readers
The vendor survey respondents most strongly associate with MM plate readers is presented in Figure 1. This showed that PerkinElmer was the vendor most associated with MM plate readers (18% associated). This was closely followed by BioTek (16% associated) and Molecular Devices (14% associated). The vendors least associated with MM plate readers were Beckman, Berthold, Hidex and Promega/Turner.
The Greatest Challenge Faced Today With MM Plate Readers
Figure 2. Greatest Challenge Faced Today With Respondent's MM Plate Reader
Main Application Area Where Respondents MM Plate Reader Is Most Used
Figure 3. Application Area Where Respondent's MM Plate Reader Is Most Used
Influence Of Brand On MM Plate Reader Purchasing
Factors Influencing Brand Switching
Figure 5. What Most Influences A Decision To Change Preferred MM Reader Brand
Influence Of Price On MM Plate Reader Purchasing
Figure 6. Influence Of Price On Previous Purchasing Selection of A MM Plate Reader
Use Of Different MM Plate Reader Detection Modalities
Figure 7. Current (2015) Usage of Different MM Plate Reader Detection Modal
Opinion On The Addition Of Cell Imaging Capability To A MM Plate Reader
Figure 8. Respondent's Opinion On The Addition Of Cell Imaging To MM Plate Readers
Influence Of Cell Imaging On MM Plate Reader Purchasing
Figure 9. Influence Of Cell Imaging Capability On The Purchasing Of MM Plate Readers
Opinion On The Addition Of A Gas Control Capability To A MM Plate Reader
Influence Of Gas Control On MM Plate Reader Purchasing
Figure 11. Influence Of Gas Control Modules On The Purchasing Of MM Plate Readers
Vendor Share Of MM Plate Reader Market
Figure 12. Estimated Future Vendor Share Of MM Plate Reader Market - Based On Purchasing Preferences Over Next Few Years (2016-2018)
Please note this should NOT be regarded as a true market share projection. It is based on respondents selecting those MM plate reader products they currently find most appealing and would likely be their next new MM plate reader purchase, not on the actual $ spent with each reader.
Most Important Drivers When Purchasing A New MM Plate Reader
Figure 13. Most Important Drivers In Reaching A Purchasing Decision For A New MM Plate Reader
Summary Of Findings
The selected findings reported above have shown that PerkinElmer was the vendor most associated with MM plate readers. Limited range of detection modes was ranked the greatest challenge faced today with MM plate readers. Basic research was the main application area of MM plate readers. Brand had a moderate influence on purchasing selection. A new functionality or readout mode was ranked what most influenced a decision to purchase a reader away from the preferred brand. Price had a major influence on purchasing selection. Absorbance was the most used MM plate reader detection modality. The addition of cell imaging to a MM plate reader was regarded a nice addition to a MM plate reader's capabilities. The availability of cell imaging would have a major influence on the future purchasing consideration of those brands (PerkinElmer, BioTek and Molecular Devices) offering the capability. The addition of gas control to enable live cell kinetic assays was regarded a nice addition to a MM plate reader's capabilities. The addition of gas control to a MM plate reader had only a moderate influence on the future purchasing consideration of these readers or brands. Based on respondent’s future purchasing selections BioTek is expected to be the most popular brand of MM plate reader. Robustness and reliability were the most important driver in reaching a purchasing decision for a new MM plate reader.
The survey findings confirm the increasing importance end-users are placing on the availability of new read out modes, particularly the addition of a CCD whole well microscopic cell imaging capability (which can include fluorescence, brightfield and phase contrast imaging). Although in reality many potential purchasers of a cell imaging option don't yet have a clear application for it, but report it is nice to have the option available. In addition, only 1 in 5 survey respondents could think of assays they currently run on MM plate reader which they would like to multiplex (correlate) with an image of a microplate well. These trends suggest that end-users maybe covering their backs by purchasing an ‘all bells and whistles’ instrument, giving them options for all possible future applications eventualities. Of the feedback survey respondents would give vendors looking to retain/attract their custom, loyalty and interest in the future, many comments focused on the need to improve system reliability and robustness; to deliver better after sales service and technical support; and urged vendors to be more flexible and look into the future for new applications.
In conclusion, MM plate readers have evolved to meet the changing needs of pharma, biotech and academic research laboratories. Their ubiquitous presence on laboratory benches is testament to their utility and through new innovation in capabilities MM plate readers look set to remain the assay workhorse for years to come.
John Comley is the Managing Director of HTStec Ltd. You can find their full range of market reports at selectbiosciences.com/marketReports
HTStec Limited has exercised due care in compiling and preparing these Selected Findings from its Report, which is based on information submitted by individuals in respondent companies. HTStec Limited has NOT verified the accuracy of this information, nor has it is established respondent’s authority to disclose information to HTStec Limited. HTStec Limited expressly disclaims any and all warranties concerning these Selected Findings including any warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for any particular purpose, and warranties of performance, and any warranty that might otherwise arise from course of dealing or usage of trade. No warranty is either expressed or implied with respect to the use of these Selected Findings. Under no circumstances shall HTStec Limited be liable for incidental, special, indirect, direct or consequential damages or loss of profits, interruption of business, or related expenses that may arise from use of these Selected Findings, including but not limited to those resulting from inaccuracy of the data therein.