Biofilm Impact On A Global Scale

In the summer of 2020, we commissioned an independent study on international biofilm markets to further understand the economic significance of biofilms in the UK and globally. The study estimated expenditure associated with biofilms in 2019; information is not yet generally available for 2020 to quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Biofilms are ubiquitous but particularly prominent in some sectors of the economy. These sectors form the focus of this study. We have used publicly available evidence to quantify economic activity relating to biofilms.

The study assessed the focus industrial sectors of the National Biofilms Innovation Centre. The total economic impact was estimated to be almost $4tn globally and £45bn ($62Bn) in the UK. These are likely to be under-estimates of the impact of biofilms. For example, in healthcare whilst we identified $387bn of direct costs as a consequence of biofilms (5% of global healthcare expenditure). we know that prevention of infection (strongly linked to biofilm control) is a major goal of all healthcare procedures and so impacts significantly on the world’s $7,800bn health related activity. We conservatively estimate the true total economic significance of biofilms is likely to be in excess of $5,000bn. 

Our article, ‘Economic significance of biofilms: a multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral challenge,’ published in npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, highlights the global impact of biofilms, based on the figures identified in our study. 

We’ve created the below infographics to reflect the results of this study and show the huge impact biofilms have on our global economy. These highlight key facts and statistics relating to 6 international biofilm markets – personal care, human health, food processing, marine biofouling, oral care and home care.

Education and Public Engagement

These NBIC infographics can be used as posters for educational and teaching purposes and as part of public engagement activities.

Each infographic is available to download either individually, or as a combined pdf file below.  


International Biofilm Markets

Cámara, M., Green, W., MacPhee, C.E. et al. Economic significance of biofilms: a multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral challenge. npj Biofilms Microbiomes 8, 42 (2022):