Microbiome market size

Understanding the microbiome's market size, growth, and trends.

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At the other week’s Tricon Microbiome Symposium we had the distinct pleasure of a thorough market analysis provided by Frost & Sullivan as one of the symposium’s first presentations. Since finding research on the microbiome market landscape is actually pretty difficult, the presentation was especially exciting for this MBA. As a point of clarification upfront the following market data are related to pharma and diagnostics for the microbiome (notably excluding all OTC probiotic related sales and trends).


According to Frost & Sullivan, there have been 2,321 patents in the last 5 years relevant to the microbiome. The US is leading the way with 618 published patent applications, followed by China with 518, WIPO with 434, and the European Patent Office with 173. It’s safe to say that patent applications can be used as a proxy for growth in discovery and there is a clear hockey stick growth over the last 10 years. Furthermore of the applications, the top three patent holders in the last five years are Nestec S.A (a subsidiary of Nestle) with 98, Seres Therapeutics with 48, and uBiome with 41.

Market size

$1bn for pharma and diagnostics, with a 4.3% annual growth rate. Seemed low to me and I would have to dig into the numbers and market sizing methodology to truly understand how the size and growth was derived. But that’s what we’ve got. My personal calculations have the projected growth rate closer to 8% but I’m not sure if the F&S growth statistic was forward looking.

Diagnostics came in with about $61 million in size - 48% genomics, 38% proteomics, 8% metabolomics, and 6% transcriptomics.


The top three areas of investigation are...you guessed it, skin, GI, and immunity. I was surprised to learn that the skin is the biggest area of patent applications. That will inevitably change as the research progresses for GI - the largest and most diverse (and arguably most important) of the human microbiota ecosystems.

Federal agencies were also surveyed to understand their current needs (a typical proxy for flow of federal funds towards initiatives). The most agencies are concerned with needs for computational and modeling skills followed by the need for reference, baseline data, and repositories.

Forward looking, the growth in capabilities, according to F&S, is around targeted microbes and antibiotics with the main drivers being increases in lifestyle diseases and technology development. I’d personally say I’m sold on the bugs as drugs model, not so much on the small molecule therapies model, and not sold at all on the targeted antibiotics prediction. Unfortunately, broad spectrum antibiotics are just too cheap (in my opinion) to really enable innovation in that area.

Again, big thank you to Frost & Sullivan for the presentation and findings!

George Roche

Founder, Revital Biome

Working at the intersection of food, biotech, and entrepreneurship. Focused on everything microbiome. www.chooselively.com