Brain wellness technology market set to top $1B by end of 2012

Could grow to $10 billion by 2020
By Mike Miliard
10:39 AM

The market for brain health technology will surpass $1 billion by the end of 2012, and is set to grow at a brisk thereafter, to between $4 and $10 billion by 2020, according to SharpBrains, a San Francisco-based market research firm.

The industry report, "The State of the Digital Brain Health Market 2012-2020 – Transforming Health with Digital Tools to Assess, Monitor and Enhance Cognition across the Lifespan," offers insights into the digital revolution transforming brain health and heath overall, officials say.

Such software includes computerized Web-based and mobile cognitive assessments, cognitive training and cognitive behavioral therapies, as well as biometrics-based monitoring and brain training tools that measure physiological responses such as heart rate variability and electroencephalography.  

"A major driver of this growth in consumer and provider demand is a significant ongoing demographic trend: an aging population," according to the report's executive summary. "On a global scale, with the total senior population expected to triple (to 1.5 billion) over the next 30 years, aging populations will make brain health even more important moving forward."

"We see a growing portion of the 78 million baby boomers in the U.S. alone investing time and effort into retaining their mental sharpness," the report reads. "This trend also motivates healthcare and insurance providers to introduce and test innovative solutions, mainly from a health & wellness (although not yet clinical) perspective."

The report finds that a market of some $6 billion is the most likely scenario by 2020. It predicts the Asia Pacific region will likely surpass North America and Europe by 2017 in its usage of the technology.

In addition to analyzing consumers' use of this technology to manage and improve their brain health and performance outside clinical settings, SharpBrains conducted in-depth analysis of more than 200 companies operating in this sector, and asked scientists to identify the most important innovation opportunities from their published research, officials say.

Among the study's findings with regard to consumers:

  • 94 percent of consumers agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: "Addressing cognitive and brain health should be a healthcare priority."
  • 83 percent agreed or strongly agreed that, "I would personally take a brief assessment every year as an annual mental check-up.'"
  • The same percentage agreed or strongly agreed that, "Adults of all ages should take charge of their own 'brain fitness,' without waiting for their doctors to tell them to."
  • Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) agreed or strongly agreed that, "Digital technologies can significantly complement other behavioral and drug-based interventions."

"Despite the economic downturn, this market has still grown from $600 million in annual revenues in 2009 to more than $1 billion by the end of 2012," said Alvaro Fernandez, CEO of SharpBrains. "With more than two billion people worldwide currently suffering from brain-based health and productivity challenges, it is rewarding to see a new generation of technologies and methodologies being developed and implemented to confront this challenge in efficient and scalable ways."

[See also: Market for patient monitoring devices could reach $8 billion by 2012]