Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business
Image of pipette and 6-well cell culture plate filled with media

Results from the Lab Manager Life Science Technology Survey

From challenges faced to the factors considered when making purchases, find out what Lab Manager readers had to say about life science technology

by Lab Manager

We asked Lab Manager readers to tell us about their life science technology use including biological safety cabinets, bioreactors, DNA sequencers, electrophoresis equipment, gel imagers, hybridization ovens, immunoassay technology, incubators, microarray technology, microplate technology, microscopy, qPCR instruments, thermocyclers, scintillation counters, and slide scanners.

For those conducting life science research, close to half are working in cellular or molecular biology and microbiology.

What areas of life science are you currently working in?

Cellular or Molecular Biology44.69%
Genetics or Genomics29.58%
Infectious Diseases24.12%
Anatomy or Physiology15.76%
Neuroscience or Behavior12.86%
Ecology or Environmental Biology10.61%
Computational Biology or Bioinformatics9.65%
Plant Biology8.68%
Development or Regeneration5.79%
Epidemiology or Population Biology4.82%
Evolutionary Biology4.18%
Clinical Testing1.93%


Maintenance is vital to keeping your life science technology in good working order. Approximately 65 percent of those using life science technology employ in-house staff to perform maintenance on their equipment. However, respondents noted that this maintenance can be complicated, especially when clear instructions aren’t provided. A further 63 percent use the original equipment manufacturer to service their life science technology, but dealing with service contracts can be time-consuming, difficult to navigate, and expensive.

Who performs your life science technology maintenance?

In-house staff64.46%
Original equipment manufacturer (OEM)62.35%
Third-party service provider37.35%
Multi-vendor service provider25.30%
Not applicable1.51%

Purchasing Plans

Approximately 78 percent of survey respondents are looking to purchase new life science technology in the near future. The highest percentage of respondents are looking to purchase microscopy solutions. Microscopes are essential tools in the life science lab, but constant advancements in technology mean there are always new models emerging. Improved camera quality, new imaging techniques, and software that is easier to use are just some of the features that might persuade researchers to replace their aging microscopes.

For those who are planning to purchase new life science technology, approximately 45 percent are looking to add to their existing systems or increase their capacity. A further 12 percent are looking to purchase for the first time or are setting up a new lab. These promising numbers suggest growth in the area of life science research.

If you are planning to purchase new life science technology, what is your primary reason?

Adding to existing systems, increasing capacity44.96%
Replacing aging system34.11%
Changing to a different method7.36%
Purchasing for the first time6.20%
Setting up a new lab6.20%

Life science research also requires many reagents and kits that need to be ordered on a regular basis. Close to one third of survey respondents are ordering cell culture consumables such as plates and media on a monthly basis. One challenge respondents face when it comes to kits and consumables is the lack of assays developed for non-human species.

How frequently does your lab purchase the following supplies?

Once a month
Cell culture consumables (plates, media, etc.)30.60%
PCR/qPCR kits15.36%
Immunoassay kits (e.g. ELISA)12.89%
DNA/RNA/protein isolation/purification kits11.36%
Antibodies for IF10.13%
Antibodies for western blotting9.29%
Antibodies for IHC8.39%
Reagents for western blotting7.28%
Sequencing kits6.15%
Plasmid miniprep kits5.47%

More than 90 percent of survey respondents agree that reliability and accuracy are the most important factors to consider when purchasing life science technology. Less than 30 percent of respondents are concerned about the size of the instrument or its novelty when purchasing this type of equipment.

Please rate the following factors/features that influence your decision-making process when purchasing life science technology.

Once a month
Ease of use68.32%
Service and support66.15%
Low maintenance / easy to clean63.55%
Compatibility with current equipment62.19%
Low operating costs59.51%
Safety features57.19%
Small footprint / size27.10%

One of the major concerns survey respondents have about life science technology is how expensive the equipment is. At the same time, respondents note that instruments often become obsolete before they stop working, making it difficult to find the parts necessary for repairs. They believe that software and parts should be available for years after the instrument is manufactured rather than rendering the instrument obsolete. At the same time, the high cost of life science technology can make it difficult to keep up with the latest trends and techniques.