CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA – Though the U.S. Federal government implemented budget sequestration on March 1st, canceling $85 billion in budgetary resources across the Federal government for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, U.S. academic researchers spend on life science reagents and instruments decreased as early as October, 2012, according to Percepta’s recent benchmarking study.

The study objectives were to understand how personnel, reagent and instrument spend have been impacted both prior to, and after, the March 1st implementation of budget sequestration in order to benchmark actual and future trends in academic life science research spending.  Targeted laboratories were drawn from several categories, including applied research, basic research, core/service and translational research labs. Complete findings from this report are available via a free download on Percepta’s website.

Among the key findings, Percepta discovered that lab reagent spending dropped by 8.4%, instrument (>$15,000) spending dropped 8.4% and the number of people in the lab dropped by 4.2% on average during the period of October 2012 through February 2013, or “fiscal cliff anticipation period”.

“In our discussions with the research community after implementation of the budget sequester on March 1st, it became clear to us that several laboratories were not making additional cuts to their budget since they had already implemented such cuts back in October 2012.  Other labs, however, were just beginning to make budget adjustments” according to Anne St Louis, a Director at Percepta.

By research segment, Percepta found that lab reagent spend ranged from an average decrease of 1.5% for core/service labs to an average decrease of 11.8% for translational research labs during the “fiscal cliff anticipation period”. During this same period, lab instrument spend ranged from an average decrease of 1.7% for core/service labs to an average decrease of 16.9% for applied research labs.

Regarding how personnel loss due to sequestration and/or the threat of sequestration has affected lab practices, 85.7% cite the number of purchase orders placed for life science supplies, 83.9% cite scientific conference attendance/travel, 73.0% cite the number of people performing experiments at the bench and 59.1% cite the amount/type of services performed for others have been most negatively impacted. Grant submission/renewal so far is a “mixed bag” as a whole: about one-third of participants decreased, slightly more than one-third of participants increased while about 30% indicate there was no change in grant submissions/renewal due to sequestration and/or threat of sequestration.

When asked to anticipate changes in the number of lab personnel and spending on lab reagent and instruments for the next 3 months due to the sequester implemented on March 1, 2013, additional average declines of 4.1%-9.3% are anticipated, though it is clear that researchers are more certain about their reagent spend as opposed to instrument spend and personnel changes. Going forward, applied researchers express the least optimism on instrument spend through May 2013.

The study relays researcher sentiment on how cuts to personnel, research reagent and instrument spend are being managed within labs, finding that researchers are generally reducing reagent spend by making targeted changes while reductions in instrument spend are being implemented across-the-board. On a positive note for certain life science manufacturers, the performance of 11 analytical methods will be relatively stable over the next 12 months: fluorescent microscopy, protein expression, endpoint PCR, cell health assays (viability/cytotoxicity/proliferation), transfection, flow cytometry, antibody-mediated detection studies, protein purification, nucleic acid gel electrophoresis and miRNA/siRNA analysis.

Because the survey was conducted prior to the formalized budget reductions in late March, which imparted a $1.5 billion sequestration cut to the National Institutes of Health, Percepta anticipates greater certainty in anticipated budget spend for the next snapshot which will be conducted in June.

About Percepta

Founded in 2005 in Carlsbad, California, Percepta Associates is a specialized consultancy providing expert market research, strategic business planning, portfolio management, product and corporate branding and marketing communications services to life science research suppliers globally. For more information visit: or call 877 597 9236.



Percepta Associates, Inc.

Alison Rowland


Phone: 877 597 9236