Virtual microscopy may be defined as the process of placing microscopic images on computer networks that can be viewed by a large number of people across different locations. Virtual microscopy is based on the computer-based technology that combines microscopy technologies and digital technologies, both. Virtual microscopy allows the viewing of virtual slide with speed and ease. Virtual microscopy is widely being used across clinical and diagnostic laboratories, drug discovery and development, and academic research institutions. The global market for virtual microscopy has been segmented into drug discovery and development, diagnostics and academic research institutions, on the basis of application.
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Significant advantages associated with virtual microscopy are playing a key role in driving the increasing demand for virtual microscopes. In June 2008, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and GE Healthcare, a business unit of conglomerate General Electric Co., entered into a partnership to develop a technically advanced virtual microscope replacing glass slides with digitalized images. These two partners collectively invested a total of USD 40 million (USD 20 million each) toward the launch of Omnyx LLC that will be designing virtual microscope. Factors such as digitization of microscopic slides, cost reduction, speed and accuracy, easy to communicate and share digital information are among others that are expected to support the growth of virtual microscopy for disease diagnosis and detection purposes during the forecast period from 2014 to 2020.
Globally, the increasing prevalence of cancer and continuously improving technology have also been identified as major factors driving the market for virtual microscopy worldwide. According to the American Cancer Society, during 2012, approximately 300,000 men and 276,000 women died in the U.S. owing to various cancer types.
In terms of geography, the market for virtual microscopy has been segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW). In 2013, North America accounted for the largest regional market for virtual microscopy, followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific. High-level adoption of virtual microscopy across anatomic pathologies in the U.S. and a significant proportion of GDP being spent on healthcare are some major factors responsible for North America leading the market for virtual microscopy. In 2012, the U.S. and Canada spent approximately 17.9% and 10.9%, respectively, of their total GDP on healthcare. In Europe, growing geriatric population is likely to play a key role in the growing demand for virtual microscopes across the region.
In Asia-Pacific, Japan, India, China, Malaysia and Australia are the most potential markets. Growing economy of India and China, high unmet medical needs in the region and the presence a large pool of patients are some major factors that are expected to contribute in the growth of virtual microscopy market in Asia-Pacific region. Growing penetration by multinational companies in the region will also boost the market growth over the forecast period. On the other hand, high initial set up and maintenance cost and low funding from governments may affect the market growth in the region to some extent. Asia-Pacific has been anticipated to witness fastest growth rate during the forecast period from 2014 to 2020 as compared to North America and Europe.
Aperio Technologies, Olympus Corporation, GE Healthcare, Ventana Medical Systems and Mikroscan Technologies, Inc. are among the major companies operating in the market for virtual microscopy. These companies are engaged in the development, designing, manufacturing and marketing of virtual microscopes. These companies compete with each other in order to get competitive edge over others.
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