The Exoskeleton Market Is Witnessing Increasing Investments Post-COVID-19

Industry : Medical Devices    

Exoskeletons find their application in healthcare, military, and industrial applications. The increasing geriatric population, rising prevalence of stroke and spinal cord injuries, and increasing adoption of the exoskeleton systems for reducing accidents in the workforce across different industries are some of the major factors supporting the growth. According to the 2020 statistics by NSCISC (National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center), every year, around 17,810 new spinal cord injuries occur in the U.S. These systems are beneficial in providing rehabilitation to patients suffering from spinal cord injuries and positive inferences from studies are anticipated to support the market growth. For instance, a study published in Springer Nature in 2022 demonstrated positive results in patients with chronic spinal cord injury that were utilizing exoskeleton technology.

In addition, stakeholders operating in the exoskeleton industry are investing in research trials to further expand its applications. For instance, Ekso Bionics had around 36 ongoing research trials in 2021. Furthermore, ongoing clinical trials for analyzing the effects of exoskeletal systems on subjects in different domains, namely military, healthcare, and industrial systems signify the rising awareness regarding exoskeleton-based products. For instance, an active clinical trial, collaborated by the United States Department of Defense, is analyzing the use of powered exoskeleton (EKSO) on patients suffering from spinal cord injury. Positive results from the study would help in increasing the penetration of the technology in the military as well as other industries. Yet another study proves the significant effect of assistive hip exoskeleton on patients with stroke. Hence, such studies are expected to boost the adoption, thereby propelling market growth shortly.

The exoskeleton market is expected to grow at 18.0% CAGR from 2022 to 2030, owing to high research funding in the form of special project assistance, research grants, university funds, and industry assistance programs. In the U.S., the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), NASA, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have been major contributors to research funding for various development projects. For instance, in 2021, the University of Michigan received funding of USD 1.7 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop a powered exoskeleton for lower limbs. In addition, in the same year, Harmonic Bionics, Inc. received series A funding of USD 7 million from KNet Investment Partners, Smilegate Investment, DSC Investment, Big Basin Capital, Bass Investment, H Robotics, and JCurve Investment. The investment is expected to aid in clinical research and the development of new products. Such funding initiatives by key players as well as government and educational institutions will aid in the growth of the market.

Moreover, COVID-19 had a negative impact on the market. This can be attributed to a decrease in the purchase of capital equipment owing to the temporary closing of rehabilitation centers and hospitals due to increased focus on COVID-related expenditure. According to Ekso Bionics' annual report, the company registered an overall decrease in revenue by around 36.0% in FY 2020 compared to FY 2019. In addition, the demand for exoskeleton products decreased approximately by 38.0% in the current business environment, leading to 61 units booked in the year 2020 compared to 98 in 2019. ReWalk reported annual revenue of USD 4.4 million in 2020 as compared to USD 4.9 million in 2019. Cost containment measures triggered by the pandemic resulted in a decline in sales volume. However, the demand for exoskeleton has been estimated to increase rapidly from 2021. For instance, ReWalk reported annual revenue of USD 6.0 million in 2021 as compared to USD 4.4 million in 2020. Increased strategic initiatives by market participants and ongoing clinical trials are among the factors expected to positively impact market growth.

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Authored by

Rajat Saxena, Cluster Head, Med Tech Research, Grand View Research

Rajat, a researcher, and analyst by passion holds a Master's Degree in International Business Management and has an exhaustive experience of over 10 years working in the market research and business consulting industry. His areas of expertise include performing business analysis in the field of medical devices, healthcare IT, and legal cannabis.

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