On May 12, 2022, the first ever Bartels Conference took place. The online event was themed “Next up in Life Science”. Don’t worry if you have missed it. We want to give you a brief summary. Soon, a recording of the event will also be available. In the meantime, make sure you are subscribed to our LinkedIn channel. There, we will post more highlights and videos of the Bartels Conference 2022.
We welcomed participants from all around the globe. Even though our main focus was on Life Science, we also had quite some microfluidic expertise present in the audience.
Holger Becker, CSO at microfluidic ChipShop and member of the German Bundestag, kicked things off. He took a look into the crystal ball at the evolution of microfluidics during the last decades. He explained that the difference between academic research and industrial product development is a big hurdle. Still, the process of public or private R&D funding has not changed significantly in the last 100 years. Therefore, it is really hard to get funding for innovative and “crazy” ideas. He emphasized that we will have to find novel processes for R&D funding.
Next, Dr. Frank Bartels, founder and CEO of Bartels Mikrotechnik, took the stage. He focused on Gartner hype cycles. Almost all technologies follow a certain hype pattern. First, there is a trigger that leads to a peak of inflated expectation. This is followed by a crash due to disillusionment. Next is an increase called “slope of enlightenment” followed by a small and steady raise called the “plateau of productivity”. At this point, completely new technologies enter the market and replace the first technology. The hype cycle starts again. Dr. Bartels emphasized that the field of microfluidics is not at the end of their general life cycle but new innovations are necessary to re-start the hype cycles and continue growth.
Following a quick networking session for all attendees, Florian Siemenroth, product manager at Bartels Mikrotechnik, had a more hands-on approach to his presentation. He invited Lea Hellweg, memetis, Gina Greco, Sensirion, and Elfi Töpfer, microfluidic ChipShop, to a live demo of a microfluidic system. They discussed how to integrate fluidic components into existing systems to boost efficiency. All while showing that live in an actual system. If you want to hear more about this, you might want to keep an eye on our YouTube channel. Soon, we will launch technical webinars that give you a step-by-step guide for our systems.
After the break, Jérôme Mouly, Yole Developpement, took a deep dive into some statistics. The Yole report on the state of the microfluidic market focuses on molecular tests with low to medium-high throughput (i.e. Point-of-Care and central lab applications). He estimates that the value of microfluidic products in 2021 overall will be up to 18b$. This number will rise since there is an increasing requirement for research in new vaccines, virus sequencing etc. The new microfluidics report by Yole will be published in July of this year.
The next presentation was a real treat. Prof. Roland Zengerle, professor for MEMS applications at the University of Freiburg and board member at Hahn-Schickard, gave his presentation on Molecular Diagnostics at the Point-of-Need. He showed that the key to successful diagnostic systems is breaking down a complex workflow into process chains and fluidic unit operations. Simplicity is key! For Prof. Zengerle, it is not a component challenge but rather a system integration challenge. The Covid-19 pandemic changed the public awareness of rapid diagnostics. This push in interest can lead to massive advances in the field within the next years.
The final presentation of the day was by Dr. Sylvain Tourel, Project Gene Therapy at the Lead Discovery Center GmbH. His goal is to build a link between academic research and industrial applications. In this instance, he gave us an insight into the research of aptamers as an alternative to antibodies. Dr. Tourel showed us how to use aptamers as cancer markers. These tests systematically screen for a wider range of cancer types at the same time. This allows for more thorough and faster testing.