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Monday, 02/27/2023 7:43:02 PM

Monday, February 27, 2023 7:43:02 PM

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>>> Top 10 CROs to watch in 2022


by Theodora Savlovschi - Wicks


Top 10 CROs to watch in 2022

Contract research organisations, also called Clinical research organizations, (CROs) are essential to the pharma, biotech, and medtech industries, supporting their efforts to test, refine and market their latest drugs and devices. In 2021, the global CRO market was valued at US$50 billion and by 2028, it is expected to reach an impressive US$88 billion, with a CAGR of 8.5% from 2021 to 2028.

Growth is being powered by a surge in research and development expenditures and activities, and a significant rise in the number of clinical trials with the need for new innovation. This is due to patent expiration, an increase in generic medications, and technological innovations like mHealth and big data influence on product development, all leading to greater outsourcing of work to CRO companies.

At the start of 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic first hit, it forced clinical trial activity to be paused as priorities were shifted. However, once the market took stock and assessed, clinical research operations started to steady themselves again and new ways to grow were revealed, either through mergers and acquisitions (M&A) or becoming a more niche specific entity.

M&A is progressively changing the marketplace and some of the largest CROs have been strengthened through joining forces or being bought out by other companies. In the last few years, notable changes in the market have included:

Clintec being absorbed by IQVIA

PRA being bought by ICON

Thermo Fisher Scientific acquiring PPD

• EQT Private Equity and Goldman Sachs Asset Management buying out Parexel

It was also recently announced, at the start of 2022, that CATO SMS and Pharm-Olam would merge to strengthen their position as a global biopharmaceutical services leader. The ripple effect of these M&A activities is felt across the wider research industry with the need for more and more outsourcing, creating a boom for functional service provider (FSP) programmes in larger organisations.

With expansions, consolidations, and innovations continuing throughout the CRO industry, 2022 is set to be another year of change. The top ten CROs to watch in 2022 are listed below, they are in no particular order but include both industry leaders by market share and revenue, and up-and-comers who are steadily increasing their presence through strategic partnerships and innovative service offerings:

1. PPD

Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD) is a leading global CRO that employs over 30,000 people worldwide. They are considered a premium CRO provider for many pharma and biotech companies, and in 2021 they received a number of prestigious industry awards including Clinical Research Company of the Year, Best Vaccine CRO of the Year, and the Eagle Award from the Society for Clinical Research Sites.

After acquiring Evidera in 2016, PPD solidified itself as a leader in real-world research. The company has leveraged Evidera’s real-world evidence expertise to provide life science companies with an increasingly crucial element of the clinical development process, helping PPD to remain competitive. Since then, PPD has acquired Synexus (now Accelerated Enrollment Solutions), a patient recruitment company, and Bioclinica, a clinical research site business. Evidera has also further strengthened its capabilities by attaining Medimix, a global technology company providing real-world evidence insights.

In 2021, PPD was officially acquired by ThermoFisher, becoming part of ThermoFisher's Laboratory Products and Services Segment. This means PPD are still operating as a CRO with traditional CRO services, as well as their accelerated site solutions. Together, PPD and ThermoFisher are able to further leverage their capabilities to bring life-changing therapies to market and are set for a very promising future with an established drug development platform, patient enrolment expertise and robust laboratory services.

2. KCR

KCR is a boutique international full-service contract research organisation, operating in three main service areas: trial execution, consulting and placement. Over the last 8 years KCR has been expanding across Europe, and since establishing their headquarters in Boston in 2017, the company has also been further increasing their presence across the US. Their growing impact on the industry is the pride they take in a human approach, with a belief that there is an individual behind every number. KCR’s services are closely related to patient data and patient recruitment and it will be interesting to see them continue to develop rapidly in this space.

In an interview with Oursourcing Pharma in 2021, CEO Mike Jagielski said “KCR aims to continue to be the clinical development partner of choice for global biotech companies, while pushing boundaries in the innovation and adaption of direct patient engagement technology and development strategies. In doing so, it is our mission to remain a private enterprise – growing organically to ensure secure, long-term development.”


Operating from 46 locations across the world, the top-tier CRO, ICON, offers a full range of consulting, clinical development and commercialisation services.

In 2016, ICON partnered with Genomics England on the UK’s 100,000 Genomes Project, and IBM Watson for oncology research support to further expand service offerings and clinical research jobs in the genomic science and oncology sectors. In the last few years, ICON has completed a series of acquisitions, including: Symphony Clinical Research, MediNova, MolecularMD, and MedPass International and PRA.

In 2021, ICON generated impressive revenues of $ 5.5 billion, after aiding with the development of 30 customer drug and device approvals in the year, including breakthrough Covid vaccines and therapies. It is on track to continue to achieve exceptional growth as it reaches to transform into the world’s largest and most comprehensive healthcare intelligence organisation, making it an exciting one to watch.


In 2016, Quintiles and IMS Health came together to become IQVIA. As the largest CRO in the world, IQVIA operates in over 100 countries across the globe and brings together advances in data science, technology, and human science expertise, offering their clients an end-to-end clinical and commercial service. After a string of further acquisitions of smaller specialist companies, the company is going from strength-to-strength and remains truly at the forefront of the CRO world.

With revenues of $13,874 million for the full year of 2021, the company grew 22.1% on a reported basis and 21.1% at constant currencies compared to 2020. IQVIA had a record year of net new business in research and development, strong double-digit revenue growth for their technology and analytics solutions division. In a press release, chairman and CEO of IQVIA, Ari Bousbib, confirmed demand from end markets remains favourable and they expect to continue to experience high demand for their differentiated offerings, meaning the company is on track to reach its next phase of growth and achieve ambitious 2025 targets.

5. Parexel

Parexel was founded in 1982 and specialises in conducting clinical studies on behalf of its pharmaceutical partners, to speed up and ensure the drug approval process runs smoothly. The company has a wide range of service offerings, covering nearly every type of clinical trial service to assist sponsors in running successful clinical studies.

In July 2021 it was announced that Parexel would be acquired by EQT Private Equity and Goldman Sachs for $8.4 billion. Parexel CEO, Jamie Macdonald, commented: “Parexel has continued its strong growth trajectory delivering on its patients-first focus and accelerating new therapies to patients in need around the world. With the market for outsourced clinical research services anticipated to grow at a conservative CAGR of 8 to 9%, our focus remains on advancing and innovating Parexel to meet our customers’ needs across the evolving clinical development landscape. EQT and Goldman Sachs support this vision and are committed to investing in Parexel and our people to capitalize on this exciting market opportunity and make a difference for patients.”

6. Medpace (MEDP)

A mid-sized CRO, Medpace focuses on clinical research for drugs and devices globally. Unlike many of the larger CROs, Medpace has not invested in acquisitions, but instead chosen to reinvest in their own workforce and grow organically.

Even with a general shift towards hybrid working models due to the pandemic, Medpace’s smaller size helps it retain the intimacy of a cohesive office culture in contrast to much of the rest of the sector which is heavily home-based. This is thought to directly affect how employees feel about the job and how they interact with clients on a daily basis, offering a unique service and collaboration with their partners.

In the latter half of 2021, Medpace announced changes to their senior leadership team with the appointment of Jesse Geiger as president and Kevin Brady as chief financial officer. Dr August Troendle, chairman and CEO commented “This step positions Medpace for continued success as we accelerate the global development of safe and effective medical therapeutics.”

Medpace recently reported strong full year 2021 results, with revenues of $1,142.4 million, an increase of 23.4% from full year 2020. Further to this, Medpace were able to grow headcount by 24.3% from the prior year in a challenging and competitive labor environment. Employee retention and continued robust hiring for future business will remain top priorities in 2022.

7. Syenos Health

Formerly known as InVentiv Health Incorporated and INC Research, Syneos Health specialises in assisting companies with late-stage clinical trials. Headquartered in Northern Carolina, USA, the company employs more than 25,000 people over 91 locations worldwide.

In the last year, the business levelled up with two acquisitions: StudyKIK, a leading technology-enabled clinical trial recruitment and retention company, boosting Syneos Health’s ability to deliver technology-enabled, insight-powered solutions, and RxData Science, a leading healthcare-focused data analytics, data management and artificial intelligence (AI) company. Together, Syneos Health and RxDataScience will offer biopharma customers technology-enabled, insights-powered solutions with the aim of fast-tracking performance across the product lifecycle.

In 2021, the company generated revenues of $5,213.0 million and increased 18.1% on a reported basis and 17.0% on a constant currency basis, compared to the same period in the prior year, due in part to the prior period being impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In the earnings press release, Alistair Macdonald, CEO, Syneos Health commented, “The market for our services remains strong, driven in part by customer adoption of our unique product development strategy, new drug approvals and biotech funding. In 2022, we expect robust growth propelled by recent acquisitions, uptake for our Syneos One and Medical Affairs offerings, and continued execution of our Value Creation Plan.”

8. Labcorp

Labcorp, provides comprehensive drug development solutions for a range of industries. In February 2015, LabCorp completed its $6 billion purchase of Covance. The combination of Covance’s drug development leadership and LabCorp’s medical testing expertise created the world’s leading health care diagnostics company. In addition to this, over the last decade, LabCorp has made a further series of acquisitions including: LipoScience, Inc., Bode Technology Group, Sequenom and, most recently, MNG Laboratories and Personal Genome Diagnostics (PGDx).

Moving forward, the company continues to grow organically through targeted acquisitions adding to its geographic and technological scope. Recently, the company furthered its efforts to advance cancer testing and the development of innovative treatments through the acquisition of Personal Genome Diagnostics. Also, by entering into a long-term relationship with Ascension, the company expects to broaden access to its clinical laboratory services in 10 states. Further to this, they are also set to acquire select assets of the health system’s outreach laboratory – making it an exciting period of growth for the company.

9. CTI

CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services is a medium-sized global contract research organisation that has been in operation since 1999. With offices in over 60 locations around the world, the company has a presence in North America, Europe, Latin America, Middle-East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific regions.

In 2021, CTI announced they were acquiring Dynakin, a European based strategic consulting company. Timothy J. Schroeder, CTI’s Chairman & CEO commented “We are excited to have Dynakin join CTI to create a stronger and more robust global full-service clinical research organisation. Dynakin and CTI share common philosophies and cultures, with a focus on teamwork, employee retention and career development. We are passionate about continued growth and expansion for the continued success of the company, so this acquisition is a great fit for the next phase of growth at CTI.”

10. PSI

PSI is a fast-growing CRO that specialises in a range of fields such as oncology, haematology, infectious diseases and multiple sclerosis. Headquartered in Switzerland, PSI has a global reach that operates clinical trials in over 50 countries and has expanded into new locations rapidly in over the last few years. They plan to continue expanding, having recently announced a new office in Israel. The company’s mission is to be the best CRO in the world in the eyes of employees, clients, sites, and vendors, showing that their reputation is at the forefront of everything they do.

In 2021, PSI received CRO Leadership Awards in five categories, including Compatibility, Expertise, Quality, Reliability, and Capabilities across two respondent groups (Overall and Small Pharma).

Interested in working for one of the top CRO companies? At Proclinical Staffing, we are specialists at recruiting for all types of jobs at contract research organisations. If you’re looking for a new position, simply send us your CV or use our job search tool to find the right role for you.



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