A $400 Million Investment Seeks to Turn Ireland into a Genomics Hub

November 27, 2018

Rare Daily Staff

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, WuXi NextCODE, and Irish life sciences company Genomics Medicine Ireland outlined a $400 million (€350M) investment program aimed at making Ireland an hub for genomics research and development of new disease treatments and cures.

Under the initiative, GMI will become a subsidiary of WuXi NextCODE, which serves as the technology engine for the leading population genomics efforts in Europe, the United States, and Asia. The plan is expected to create up to 600 high-value jobs over five years and will position GMI as the cornerstone for an International Centre for Advanced Life Sciences (ICALS).

Under the terms of the investment, $225 million (€197M) will be committed to GMI in the near term increasing to $400 million in line with the achievement of milestones as GMI expands and an ICALS develops in the medium term.

Alongside ISIF, which is investing $70 million, major venture capital firms, sovereign wealth funds, and other global investors will also invest in the initiative through WuXi NextCODE and GMI. These include: ARCH Venture Partners, Polaris Partners, Temasek, Yunfeng Capital, and Sequoia Capital.

The initial investment will be focused on the expansion of GMI to undertake one of the world’s largest whole genome sequencing programs. The program will target participation from 400,000 volunteers, or one in every ten people in Ireland, including patients with a range of common and rare diseases. This will help to deliver healthcare benefits to Irish patients and create a unique platform for research and discovery of new precision medicines for the treatment of life-limiting conditions that currently have no cure.

The initiative builds upon Ireland’s unique advantages for conducting population genomics research at scale. This includes a relatively homogeneous population, which makes key genes easier to identify; a population large enough to have both common and rare diseases in significant numbers; high-quality healthcare and medical research facilities; and a track record of participation among the population in similar research programs in the past.

To kick-off the investment program, the company proposes establishing a strategic advisory board comprised of experts and key stakeholders from academia, the health sector, and industry to help foster the program and maximize potential patient impact.

In addition to the investments announced today, early-stage discussions to fund a genomics accelerator are already underway targeting further development of Ireland’s ecosystem in this field to support new start-ups and early-stage companies with similar specialist skills and research capabilities.

“This investment shows ISIF’s ability to act as a catalyst for major investment in high-value economic activity in Ireland by teaming up with top-tier co-investment partners from around the globe,” said Paul Saunders, senior investment director, Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. “Through ISIF’s investment in WuXi NextCODE, GMI should be well positioned to scale its activities significantly and quickly, generating new jobs in Ireland, and enhancing Ireland’s reputation as a center for genomics research.”


November 27, 2018
Photo: (L-R): Paul Saunders, Senior Investment Director, ISIF; Anne Jones, CEO of Genomics Medicine Ireland; Leo Varadkar TD, Taoiseach; Rob Brainin, CEO of WuXi NextCODE


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