Dr Nadia Tsao, Principle Analyst at IDTechEx, talks us through some of the findings from the company’s most recent research report, ‘Antimicrobial Technology Market 2021 – 2031’.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life around the world, and rarely for the better. The antimicrobial technology market is one of those rare cases – increased public awareness and focus on hygiene have driven many to turn to antimicrobial technologies for added protection.

Antimicrobial surfaces provide continuous inactivation and even killing of microorganisms such as the SARS- CoV-2 virus. This article discusses some of the findings from IDTechEx’s research report, ‘Antimicrobial Technology Market 2021 – 2031’.

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven unprecedented demand for antimicrobial products. Due to the pandemic, antimicrobial technology companies have seen double to quadruple percent growth in revenue, with companies receiving up to 10x increase in new customer requests. As expected, the fears of fomite transmission from contaminated surfaces are the key driver of this interest.

Studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 can last for over 24 hours on cardboard, 48 hours on stainless steel, and 72 hours on plastic. Companies offering products suitable for retrofitting existing facilities pivoted quickly during the pandemic, offering adhesive or heat-shrink films, as well as liquids that can be sprayed or coated onto existing surfaces. As the importance of blocking respiratory droplets and aerosols grew, a new product category emerged: antiviral face masks.

Antimicrobial technology is old, but the industry is young. While humans have known of and have utilised antimicrobial materials for thousands of years, the oldest company focusing on developing antimicrobial technologies is under 100 years old. Even so, the industry only began to expand in earnest since the early 1990s.

Today, more than 60 SMEs and start-ups have antimicrobial technology development as their core business. These companies are responsible for the development of antimicrobial products for their customers but are not necessarily involved in the manufacturing of the end product, or even the antimicrobial additive.

Despite new technologies, silver remains king. From silver drinking vessels thousands of years ago to antimicrobial clothing today, silver remains the dominant antimicrobial material on the market. Much progress has been made over the years – companies today develop new techniques to incorporate silver at low concentrations and controlling their release in order to keep high killing efficacy while ensuring affordability and durability of the product’s antimicrobial effect.


For example, Sciessent commercialised a zeolite delivery vehicle that holds silver ions which are only released upon exposure to moisture. Inhibit Coatings have developed a method of incorporating silver into resins that releases silver at much lower concentrations than competitors on the market. Innovotech have developed a silver compound that has enhanced efficacy against pre-formed biofilms.

Antimicrobial technologies save lives. A key driver of the antimicrobial technology industry is the prevention of hospital-acquired infections. Before the pandemic, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control estimates that roughly 4.1 million acute care patients would pick up an infection from being a patient in a hospital, resulting in 37,000 deaths.

Antimicrobial technologies deployed as a part of the healthcare facility’s infection prevention programme have been shown to be effective at decreasing this rate, and as a result, save lives. The use of antimicrobial technologies can result in cost savings as well – in the US, some two million hospital-acquired infections cost $28bn – $45bn to treat. Even outside of healthcare, application of antimicrobial technologies to the food industry can save lives – the WHO estimates that over 420,000 people around the world die from contaminated food each year.

For more information on the technologies, applications and players in antimicrobial technology, refer to IDTechEx’s research report ‘Antimicrobial Technology Market 2021 – 2031’.

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