With a current valuation sitting at more than $16.6 billion, sequencing giant Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) continues to dominate the market and show signs of positive movement, amid a year of complications.
In November, the company announced it was launching a Global Health Access Initiative to help low- and middle-income countries have greater access to pathogen sequencing tools for public health. With help from the nonprofit FIND, the program will lower the cost of certain Illumina products to qualifying global health funding entities while addressing challenges related to supply chain and international logistics. Currently, pricing for sequencing products often varies based on country or region, further complicating their access.
Under the new initiative, Illumina plans to provide discounted rates for a range of sequencing applications, such as providing whole-genome sequencing of new and returning viruses to monitor their development and potentially prevent full blown outbreaks.
The Local Advantage
“We know that enabling countries to perform pathogen sequencing locally strengthens health systems, enables better preparedness, and empowers countries to manage their priority health threats,” said Vanessa Moeder, Head of Global Health at Illumina. “It also avoids costly and time-consuming shipment of samples abroad and leads to faster response times. We cannot lose time preparing for the next pandemic, and adoption of pathogen genomic surveillance in every country allows us to get ahead of infectious threats.”
In early September, Illumina announced that it was expanding its genomics capabilities in India, with the opening of a new office and state-of-the-art Illumina Solutions Center in Bengaluru (Bangalore), located in the country’s southern state of Karnataka.
“Bangalore has become known as a biotech hub for India, with a commitment to world class R&D capabilities. Our team there – in collaboration with longtime channel partner, Premas Life Sciences – will serve local customers and expand access to genomics in the region,” CFO and Chief Corporate Strategy and Development Officer Joydeep Goswami said at the time. With a population of 1.4 billion people who are facing public health crises such as tuberculosis, HIV, AIDS and malaria, Goswami explained there was ripe opportunity in India to make a difference.
The expansion news came as the company’s board of directors appointed its new, 48-year-old CEO, Dr. Jacob Thaysen, PhD, who started on Sept. 25. Dr. Thaysen comes from Agilent, the Santa Clara-based company that provides instruments and services to labs around the world. Since 2018, he has overseen the unit responsible for the analytical instrument portfolio, informatics and cell analysis franchise. Before that, he was president of the company’s Diagnostics and Genomics Group, where he nearly doubled operating profit.
The forward momentum may turn a page for the company, which suffered recent setbacks – including summertime layoffs – as part of a plan to slash operational expenses by $100 million.
In October, the European Commission (EC) ordered Illumina to unwind its already completed acquisition of GRAIL – a spin-out company that makes non-invasive, liquid biopsy tests for cancer, after antitrust officials criticized the deal over fears that it may stifle innovation and limit competition.
According to Illumina’s Q3 financial results, revenue sits at $1.12 billion, flat compared to Q3 of 2022 (up 1% on a constant currency basis) and down 5% from Q2 of 2023.
“While the environment remains challenging, I am confident in our ability to navigate it and position the company for long-term success,” said Dr. Thaysen during the release of the Q3 report. “I came to Illumina for the opportunity presented by our core business. While I evaluate the company’s strategy, we will remain focused on driving on further placements of the NovaSeq X [sequencing platform], which will boost consumables demand. We will also continue optimizing our operations and drive stronger execution.”
CEO: Dr. Jacob Thaysen, PhD
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego
BUSINESS: DNA sequencing
STOCK: ILMN (NASDAQ)
VALUATION: $16.67 billion
NOTABLE: Illumina is the world’s leading genomics sequencing company