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High-tech giant Illumina set to expand operation

By WU YIYAO in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-26 08:17

High-tech giant Illumina Inc plans to expand its operation in China after recording high double-digit growth in the past two years.

The California-based company manufactures and markets next-generation genetic sequencing technology for customers such as healthcare providers, research centers and pharmaceutical firms.

"China has already become Illumina's largest market outside the United States and our sales revenue has showed double-digit growth," Francis deSouza, chief executive of Illumina, said in Shanghai.

"The market is still in the early stages of genome sequencing services, but we feel the time is right to expand here."

Still, deSouza said that China has become a major driver in Illumina's rapid growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

Last month, the Nasdaq-listed company reported that its first-quarter revenue in the Asia-Pacific region, including China, grew 15 percent year-on-year.

But deSouza made it clear growth had surged. "Genome sequencing data are widely used in key sectors such as agriculture, forensic science and clinical operation," he said. "And we are seeing increased demand across all these sectors. There is great room for growth."

Part of Illumina's plan will be to team up with Chinese partners involved in genome sequencing services, such as DNA tracking, as the company looks to increase its global footprint.

But deSouza declined to disclose names, although he made it clear startups would be priority targets.

"Startup companies in China's genome sequencing service sector are likely to benefit by using Illumina's resources," he said. "This would be vital at the early stage of research and development. It would be a way to help small enterprises turn a good idea into a business."

To illustrate what is stake, the market forecast for next generation sequencing will hit $12.8 billion by 2022, according to Allied Market Research.

In 2015, it was just $3.57 billion, data from the US-based market research company and consultants showed.

Illumina is one of the largest players in next-generation sequencing, which is at the cutting-edge of the industry, with a 70 percent market share in the sector, according to Research Markets, an online business data base.

Last year, annual sales revenue approached $2.4 billion, an 8 percent year-on-year jump with non-GAAP profit at $503 million.

But the company is facing fierce competition from a number of players, including BGI, one of the world's largest genomics organizations based in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

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