“Merluno helped us in clarifying the potential of the biotech market in six countries in Europe, enabling us to choose the correct strategy for our European market development.” – Hans Constandt, CEO

Challenge of Europe

ONTOFORCE, a known name in the Benelux and the US pharmaceutical market, found that the development of Europe was difficult and slow in comparison with the United States. The European market was unknown on many different levels. Lacking a proper market strategy and a clear insight on the way to access and enter the European biotech market, Merluno was asked to research, identify and qualify the first potential addressable market in Europe, with a focus on the entry and penetration. The main question was simple: How can ONTOFORCE define its potential within Europe and cultivate it, with a focus on the biotech market?


Merluno always focuses on the added value of the company and its reason of existence: the value proposition. Based on that knowledge, a market is researched, analysed and qualified. In a second stage, this analysis is translated into a set of scenarios which can be followed depending on the internal capacity of the company and the long-term strategy.

Step 1: Refining of the value proposition of ONTOFORCE

  • What is the added value of ONTOFORCE to the biotech market?
  • What differentiates ONTOFORCE from other players in the market?
  • How does ONTOFORCE behave itself towards the addressable market?

Step 2: Definition of the market potential:

  • Clarification of the total addressable market in Benelux, France, UK & Germany,
  • Definition of access and entry strategies of the different market regions

Step 3: Qualification and prioritisation of the different markets in Europe

  • Focus on the main market strategy
  • Focus on the main total addressable market

Step 4: Choice of the main market & market development

  • Analysis and development of the different market regions by identifying the challenges and needs of specific prospects of our client
  • Development of an account-based penetration tactic;
  • Feedback & integration of knowledge in value proposition on the biotech market.

Key findings

“After a three-month market assessment, Merluno was able to identify the main market potential of all different regions (Benelux, France, UK & Germany) by analysing the available information and speaking to the decision makers in every market segment.” – Hans Constandt, CEO

The biotech market is a difficult market to enter for ONTOFORCE due to the spread in company size and a general lacking view of data usage and data linkage. Most companies acknowledge that data will become more important, but few companies see the added value.

As the existence of the biotech market depends heavily on a surrounding supportive network from academia, government and other companies, investing in ‘unknown solutions’ seems hard.

Thirdly, the market potential for ONTOFORCE seemed rather limited due to the limited amount of companies with more than 50 employees. Feedback from the market showed that smaller companies didn’t generate a profitable business case.

The total market counts +3500 companies, whereas the total addressable market only counts +400 companies. The gap between the amount of companies and the addressable market is huge due to the ‘number of employees’-variable.

Figure 1 – Focus of the market &  the value-proposition of ONTOFORCE
Within these 400 companies, the match with the product of ONTOFORCE was highly dependent on their own vision on data. A small group believes that data forms an accelerator towards growth, whereas most companies focus on funding their R&D processes or believe their area of expertise is too niche.

Thus; how can the market be developed?

The market need for Benelux and France proved to be industrialisation. How can they industrialise their current practice? The willingness to pay proved to be strongly differing. Biotech is highly dependent on external financing and thus needs crystal clear conviction an investment will have a good ROI. The market requires an ecosystem approach, with focus on the larger companies and the creation of relationships with all players within the ecosystem. The ease to enter the market is quite low due to high risk aversion to software and data solutions, an immature market depending on expertise and use cases, with inside-out thinking limiting the development of the company. Little competition is active in the market and most of the companies use internal developed tools or well established BI-solutions that don’t offer the same accuracy or results. Although the interest is certainly there, this market is difficult to develop. High profile customers in combination with a first mover advantage show potential to enter and develop the biotech market.

Figure 1 – Focus of the market & the value-proposition of ONTOFORCE

As biotech is an important element of the general life sciences market, it is important to develop ‘thought leadership’ within that market. From that ‘thought leadership’, ‘product leadership’ can arise, aiming at market leadership afterwards. Focusing on helping with ‘industrialisation’ is a feasible task for ONTOFORCE based on their data linkage offering. The first feedback from large companies was hesitant, but not reluctant. Based on the feedback of the market the decision is made to connect with the Benelux & France market to further develop 20 key accounts.

Learn more about ONTOFORCE