A benchtop automation system enables the automation of technically challenging or repetitive processes. Numerous repetitive tasks involved in modern drug discovery can be automated using small-scale automation solutions. Typically, average labs have neither the budget, nor the space to accommodate large automation facilities. Small-scale benchtop automation systems can suit their purpose. Numerous labs are unaware of the laboratory automation revolution. There has been a continuous focus on deploying automation development resources towards user-friendly, small-scale automation solutions. Recent advances in small scale bench-top automation can be attributed to developments of instruments in the following areas: compact configurations, extended pipetting ranges, enclosed instruments, pre-validated protocols, turnkey solutions, new robotic configurations, new software and end-user empowerment. Key application areas include sample preparation (such as qPCR setup, next-gen sequencing and nucleic acid extraction), liquid dispensing, cell-based arrays and others. Other developments threaten to open up existing application areas to truly empowering automation, e.g., dose-response analysis.
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Benefits such as cost, better quality data and labor savings are key factors for making small-scale benchtop automation accessible. Coupling these solutions with moderate walkaway automation and moderate flexibility further enhances their utility. The popularity of emerging applications of sample prep (qPCR setup, next-gen sequencing, quantification and normalization of genomic DNA samples, protein and nucleic acid extraction) is expected to boost the growth of this market. Automation of a technically challenging or repetitive process is also expected to be a key driver for market growth. Other drivers include demand for more reliable data, expected increased in sample number/throughput, better quality of assay results and inclination of ownership of the device rather than sharing with a core facility. The advent of new innovative instrument launches in the last decade is expected to generate significant interest among bench scientists. High software flexibility needed to modify vendor-recommended protocols; high investment price and training time are a few challenges to the incorporation of this system.
North America dominates the market, followed by Europe. However, Asia Pacific and Latin America regions are expected to witness rapid growth, owing to rise in biotechnology sector, increased research outsourcing by pharmaceutical giants and growing industry demand for accreditation and standardization.
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