Flexible, agile, niche: How small-sized CROs compete

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages/dima_sidelnikov
GettyImages/dima_sidelnikov
Niche, small-scale CROs can stand their own – despite a predicted increase in consolidation among small-sized contract services firms – says Clinical Trial Consultants (CTC) and data-focused Quanticate.

According to the contract research organisations (CROs), small, third-party service firms are more flexible and agile than their middle- to large-sized competitors, which can prove valuable during the early stages of pipeline development.

“Their ​[small-sized CROs] small and agile nature means they can meet short turnaround times, which is extremely important during early-phase drug development where clinical milestones must be achieved rapidly to demonstrate the value of a promising molecule, and in some cases, guarantee the next round of funding,” ​said CTC’s CEO Anders Millerhovf.

The capacity to promptly adapt to project modifications can also shorten timelines, he told us.

“During early-phase drug development there are a number of hurdles to overcome, this makes flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing project requirements extremely important,” ​he said.

The niche advantage

According to Millerhovf, CROs offering niche services are faster and more flexible than their competitors.  

“Niche CROs are also quick to implement and use new technologies, which helps to differentiate their offering in an increasingly competitive market,” ​he added.

Quanticate’s chief commercial officer Daniel Chapple, said niche, small-scale CROs also attract partnership opportunities with other vendors.

According to Chapple, when partnerships between niche CROs are formed – where one company may oversee the operational side of a trial, and the other collects and analyses data – customers are more likely to benefit from accurate results.

“Having two vendors to oversee each area means that both will be independently monitoring the quality of one another’s work, ensuring an additional layer of quality control with no conflicts of interest,”​ he told us.

Similarly, CTC said strategic partnerships can reduce project time and cost. 

“By offering an integrated service, we are able to reduce risk, time and cost for our customers, and compete very effectively with some of the larger CROs,” ​said Millerhovf.

M&A pressure?

CTC told us it has not experienced acquisition pressure; however Quanticate said recent business growth has attracted interest from larger firms.

“Our positive growth and financials over the last five years mean that we are regularly on the list of potential acquisition targets from investment and clinical organisation,”​ said Quanticate.

“However, it is not within our strategy to be acquired,”​ he told us.

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