Ireland and Industry Leaders Announce $400 Million Program to Create Genomic Research Hub

November 28, 2018
  • The program brings together many industry heavyweights including: WuXi NextCODE, ARCH Venture Partners, Polaris Partners and Sequoia Capital
  • The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund is committing $70 million

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), an Irish sovereign development fund, WuXi NextCODE, the emerging global standard platform for genomics, and Irish life sciences company Genomics Medicine Ireland (GMI), today announce details of a $400 million (€350M) investment programme aimed at making Ireland an important 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 US and Asia. This will create up to 600 high-value jobs over five years and will position GMI as the cornerstone for a Silicon Docks-modelled 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's $70 million investment, major Silicon Valley and 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
  • Sequoia Capital

The launch 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 which currently have no cure.

The initiative builds upon Ireland's unique advantages for conducting population genomics research at scale:

  • 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 demonstrable track record of high 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.

Creation of an International Centre for Advanced Life Sciences
GMI's sizable population genomics program as well as WuXi NextCODE's genomics platform will be leveraged to provide core infrastructure of a global hub to attract Irish and international enterprises and organizations working in the life sciences industry including:

  • Multiomics
  • Research and bioinformatics
  • Precision medicine development
  • Medical genetics services
  • Digital health
  • Cloud computing
  • High performance computing and artificial intelligence

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.

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