BGI Subsidiary Raises Over $200M in Initial Financing Round

MGISEQ-2000 Genetic Sequencer [MGI]

MGI, the sequencing instruments subsidiary of BGI Group, said today it has raised more than $200 million in its first financing round—the largest amount of capital raised by any single Chinese entity focused on genetics, according to the company.

MGI said it raised the $200 million-plus from investors that included CITIC Goldstone Capital, Green Pine Capital Partners, and Orient Securities Capital Investment.

MGI plans to use proceeds from the financing to strengthen R&D and production of new gene sequencers, expand its product lineup, and help grow China’s gene sequencing industry.

Established in 2015—two years after BGI completed its acquisition of Complete Genomics for $117.6 million—the BGI subsidiary said it has installed more than 1,100 of its MGI sequencers globally, covering 16 countries and regions, with more than 300 users. The cumulative output from those sequencers has reached 20Pb of data, from which more than 300 research papers have been published.

MGI’s main model of gene sequencer is MGISEQ-2000, which is designed to support two different specifications of the chip through a two-chip independent operation platform. It takes only 48 hours to sequence a paired-end 100 base pair read (PE100) run at full capacity, and less than 48 hours to complete the rapid detection of 24 tumor samples on average, according to the company.

In October 2018, MGI released its most powerful sequencer, MGISEQ-T7. The sequencer is designed to deliver single-day data output of up to 6Tb, as well as paired-end 150 base pair read (PE150) sequencing in 24 hours, at a cost per Gb sequencing of $5—which according to the company is the world’s lowest sequencing cost.

On April 26, MGI officially released HMBI-G30, a high-throughput gene sequencing integrated machine developed in collaboration with the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences to develop a high-throughput gene sequencer designed for sequencing Chinese herbal medicine genes, with the goal of accurately and quickly identifying Chinese herbal medicine samples.

In a statement, MGI said it has invested a total of about RMB 5 billion ($726.9 million) in R&D toward a foundation of patents of sequencing technology, and has applied for more than 580 technical patents, including more than 80 Patent Cooperation Treaty patents.

MGI cited projections that the global sequencing industry will grow by 2022 to $12.45 billion, of which the Asia-Pacific region is expected to account for $2.39 billion of the total—while the market size of China’s gene sequencing industry is predicted to reach RMB 9.8 billion ($1.42 billion) by 2020.

“As the only company in China and one of only three companies in the world that can independently develop and mass produce clinical high-throughput gene sequencers, MGI’s completion of its first round of financing shows the recognition of its research and development capabilities and internationalization,” MGI stated. “MGI is gradually breaking the market monopoly in the upstream of the gene sequencing industry and building a stable and open industrial ecology based on its sequencing platform and independent research and development, changing the inherent closed industry model.”

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