Genetic testing industry boosts China’s economic development
According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the genetic testing industry has become an important force in the new momentum of China’s economic development.
The genetic testing market size of China five-folded from RMB 1.2 billion in 2012 to RMB 6 billion in 2016. During this period significant advances were made in terms of sequencing throughput and detection accuracy, while lowering the cost.
China is capable of producing second-generation sequencers at about 1/3 of the cost of foreign products. Two weeks ago MGI Tech, a subsidiary of BGI, launched two new next-generation sequencing platforms, MGISEQ-2000 and MGISEQ-200.
Less than three months ago, on July 17, BGI Genomics, a division of BGI Group, carried out a RMB 547 million (€ 71 million) initial public offering (IPO). The initial list price was RMB 13.64 per share on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s ChiNext board (aka China’s NASDAQ). The share price has been rising steadily since, closing today at RMB 210.50 per share. That’s a 1543% increase!
Biotechnology (including genetic sequencing) is one of seven “strategic industries” targeted for growth in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan. It is also covered by the “Made in China 2025” initiative, which is focused on higher-value-added intelligent manufacturing.
BGI is not the only sequencing company attracting investment. From 2012 to 2016, China’s gene sequencing industry has accumulated nearly 70 investment and financing activities, with a total amount of over € 430 million invested. Among them, 33 were invested in 2016, with an investment amount of over € 275 million.
It’s not just domestic companies taking advantage of this gene sequencing boom. Also foreign companies are tapping into the potential. To mention one audacious example, Veritas Genetics announced in June 2017 that it is launching the first whole genome newborn screening test in China, called myBabyGenome. myBabyGenome sequences the entire genome and reports on genetic variation for nearly 950 early onset conditions, 200 potential drug interactions and more than 100 physical traits. The company opened their Asia R&D center in Hangzhou over two years ago to develop products that address the unique genetic needs of Asian populations.