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All the top executives of the world's smartest instrument companies came to Shanghai to discuss the "Tao" of the new CEO in China. Although it is early spring, Shanghai in March still makes people feel a little wet and cold unique to the south. However, in a conference room of illmina (China) on the 22nd floor of Ruian square, Huaihai Middle Road, the atmosphere of air screw drive and rack drive was very warm. On the afternoon of March 22, the Chinese media meeting of Mr. Francis DeSouza, the new CEO of Illumina, was held here. Many professional media from China sat around the round table with him and listened to him talk about the "unlocking" genome power of Illumina

Mr. zhaoruilin, general manager of Illumina Greater China, Mr. nitao, marketing director of Illumina Greater China, Dr. merrilyn Datta, business operation director of Illumina, Ms. hufangfang, marketing manager of Illumina Greater China, etc. also attended the media meeting

mr. Francis DeSouza (second from the right), Mr. zhaoruilin (third from the right), Mr. nitao (first from the right), Dr. merrilyn Datta (fourth from the right)

this is Mr. DeSouza's third visit to China since he took office in Illumina. Different from the previous two visits, in addition to his identity, this time he also brought almost all the senior managers of Illumina, This is enough to illustrate the important position of the Chinese market in the company's mind. China has become the most important genomics city after the United States in the construction of the Beijing Shanghai high speed rail project

it should be said that in 2016, which has just passed, Illumina company still handed over a good report card, with a global revenue of $2.4 billion, an increase rate of 8%. According to Mr. DeSouza, more than 90% of the sequencing data worldwide comes from the sequencing platform manufactured by Illumina

there are four key markets supporting Illumina to achieve such excellent performance:

1, tumor. For this market, whether it is scientific research or clinical application, Illumina is deeply engaged in intensive work. At the scientific research level, Illumina has worked closely with scientists to provide them with powerful scientific research tools in the discovery of tumor biomarkers and the development of targeted therapies; In the clinical field, Illumina is also committed to assisting relevant institutions in how to translate the scientific research achievements they have made into clinical practice, so as to benefit more patients

2. Reproductive and genetic health. In this market, in addition to the well-known non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), Illumina is also paying attention to the application of gene sequencing technology to the screening of test tube baby embryos to prevent the birth of defective offspring

3. Application market. This market includes such things as optimal breeding of crop varieties, forensic identification, organ transplantation, etc

4. Enterprise information service. In this field, Illumina has just reached strategic cooperation with two well-known companies. One is IBM Watson health. Their cooperation aims to integrate and standardize the interpretation of cancer research. The other is Philips. Their cooperation aims to combine Illumina's DNA sequencing technology, basespace sequence hub and Philips' cloud based genomics platform to acquire, analyze and interpret genomics data in cancer research

while describing the above four key markets, Mr. DeSouza also introduced some business strategies of the company in the Chinese market:

in the field of scientific research, Illumina will maintain close cooperation with many well-known Chinese scientists in the industry. One of the most typical examples of successful cooperation is Professor luyuming of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is the founder of non-invasive prenatal DNA testing and has made pioneering contributions to non-invasive prenatal fetal genetic testing

in the field of application, especially in the field of clinical diagnosis, Illumina has good cooperative relations with many domestic third-party gene sequencing companies, such as Beirui Hekang, anouda, Xiamen aide, etc. Based on Illumina's sequencing platform, these companies develop solutions for specific application cases. The successful development of these solutions may bring new sequencer customers to Illumina

of course, no matter how successful the market strategy is, it also needs to be backed by good technical products

in people's impression, "innovation" has always been the most prominent label on Illumina. There are two data that can explain the problem. Every year, 18% of the revenue is invested in R & D, which is far higher than the industry average of 9%

at the beginning of this year, Illumina launched its new sequencing platform novaseq series. When talking about this new product, Mr. DeSouza used the expression "the most powerful sequencing platform of Illumina so far". It is reported that novaseq series will replace the existing hiseq series products of Illumina (except hiseq x 5/10, which is still an economic platform for users who want to establish sequencing centers and large-scale gene sequencing). The launch of novaseq series sequencer will enable more relevant scientific researchers to use the new generation sequencing technology, especially the research involving whole genome sequencing, in-depth sequencing, single cell sequencing, etc. Mr. DeSouza told the Chinese media at the meeting that just after the product was launched, six institutions expressed their intention to purchase a total of 49 sets, which was very encouraging

there are many articles that specifically introduce the technical advantages of novaseq series products, so the author will not repeat them in this article. I just want to emphasize that the emergence of novaseq series has further reduced the sequencing cost of a single sequencer. In response to the author's question about sequencing cost, Mr. DeSouza introduced a group of dust data on the surface of the lens. "The cost for hiseq 4000 to obtain the data of each G is about $20, while for novaseq, the figure has dropped to about $10."

according to the past experience of Illumina, every decline in sequencing cost will lead to the emergence of new application markets. This is why when novaseq series was launched, Illumina also put forward the concept of "era of 100 yuan genomics". Although there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of product technology to realize this great vision (however, Mr. DeSouza also confidently said that the new system developed based on novaseq architecture in the future is likely to achieve this goal), Illumina company wisely raised this topic first to give us enough room for imagination. It guides the industry to think about the application market that can be tapped when "100$personal genome sequencing" is no longer a technical problem when the machine is digital display, adopts frequency conversion speed regulation, breaks down automatically and can be set to return automatically. No wonder in 2014, Illumina was rated as the first of the 50 Smartest Companies in the world by MIT Technology Review. This "market preheating strategy" (let's call it for the moment) was also adopted before the launch of hiseq x 10, and achieved very good results. At that time, Illumina's own market estimate for the hiseq x 10 system was about 5 sets (after all, the price was there, one system was 10million dollars), but so far, more than 30 sets of this system have been sold worldwide, which greatly exceeded Illumina's original estimate. Therefore, never underestimate users' desire for new technologies

Mr. DeSouza also emphasized that although sequencing technology is constantly improving, it is still a long way from this day to truly benefit most ordinary people and enable us to benefit from it

before attending this media meeting, the author noticed that some media were speculating that Illumina had officially entered the midstream market of gene sequencing, so at the end of the meeting, the author also asked Mr. DeSouza about this situation. Mr. DeSouza told the author that Illumina has made some attempts in this regard, but it is still focusing on the upstream market of gene sequencing, that is, instruments and equipment are still the main business of Illumina

however, in 2014, Illumina launched its own genomics incubator project, which aims to provide comprehensive assistance including capital, technology, equipment and so on for new start-ups engaged in next-generation sequencing. In other words, Illumina intends to expand the application of sequencing technology by supporting other companies to further tap the value of second-generation sequencing. In this way, Illumina not only avoids the direct competition with its own instrument customers in the gene sequencing market, but also extends its tentacles to the application markets that it is difficult to cover at present. Once again, the smart company made a smart choice

Copyright © 2011 JIN SHI