Illumina San DiegoIf you thought all Illumina did was try to make sequencing genomes as fast and cheap as possible, you were wrong. They’re on a mission to revolutionise healthcare. Christian Henry, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, explains…

If you work in genomics, you know all about Illumina. We’re all familiar with how they lowered the barrier to entry for genome sequencing, and catalysed the genomic explosion. In so doing, they are also at the heart of the burgeoning genomic community in San Diego. It’s from their HQ that they are doing everything they can to help others unlock the power and potential of the genome.

FLG: San Diego is making a strong claim for the title of Genomic Capital of The World. What is it about the region that lends itself so well to technology innovation and application in this space?

CH: One of the biggest pluses for the region is the very strong university system we have here. With University of California San Diego, University of San Diego, and San Diego State, it’s a great environment turning out a lot of innovation on its own. We’re not that far away from UC Irvine and UCLA either. Not only are we able to draw talent, we also have the ability to collaborate with these big institutions. Having these places around us gives us a leg up helping us make progress and drive innovation.

Being on the West Coast, we have great access to capital in terms of venture capital. The Silicon Valley impact really helps us here in San Diego. Combined with the innovation through universities, it gives us the propensity to really drive biotechnology, and importantly genomics. With Illumina having such a strong presence and companies like Sequenom, Human Longevity, and others in our field, there’s a lot of sequencing capability here in San Diego right now.

FLG: Illumina are at the very heart of this. How important is San Diego to what Illumina have achieved so far, and what you hope to achieve in the future? 

CH: The local San Diego government has been very supportive of Illumina and that support helps us enable growth. If you come to our campus today, you’ll see construction everywhere. We keep growing this campus, and the city has been very helpful with everything from the permitting process, tax relief in some areas, and economic incentives to keep us here. San Diego has been very forward thinking and realising that biotechnology is a key industry in the 21st century. We have a skilled and mobile workforce, but we’ve really made San Diego our home through this strong community.

We are a global company. We have a very strong presence in the United Kingdom, China, Singapore, as well as here in the US. As we think about expansion, San Diego will continue to be our headquarters and be at our core. So as we expand to where our customers around the world are, our strategy will emanate from here in San Diego.

Check out the full interview with Christian Henry on page 40 in the latest issue of FLG magazine.