Helix, a joint venture between Illumina, Warburg Pincus and Sutter Hill Ventures, aims to accelerate the consumer adoption of genomics. 

Illumina are pretty much the first and last name in the world of sequencing. After all, how many international companies in any sector can boast an almost 80% market share? Or a commitment to new business through their startup accelerator? Now Illumina are looking to make the jump from the lab to the consumer with their latest venture, Helix.

Helix takes the existing consumer genome testing model, where a customer sends off a sample of saliva in the post and receives a genetic profile a week or so later, and creates an additional online environment where customers can browse and purchase a range of different additional analysis products provided by third party partners. Effectively a digital hub for personal genomics.

As part of this venture Illumina will be establishing one of the largest next-generation sequencing facilities in the world, along with a secure and protected database to store client information. 

“Genomics is reaching an inflection point in cost, volumes, and knowledge, creating a significant opportunity to unlock information that is currently not widely accessible to individuals,” said Jay Flatley, CEO of Illumina who will serve as Chairman of the Board for Helix. “Helix and its founding investors are committed to creating a neutral platform at the highest quality standard that will work with partners to accelerate consumer adoption of genomics.”

With financing commitments of over of $100 million from investors Warburg Pincus and Sutter Hill Ventures, Helix already has two key partners signed up to populate its online marketplace. The Centre of Individualized Medicine at Mayo Clinic will initially focus on consumer education and health-related queries, while Laboratory Corporation of America will take on medically actionable genetic conditions. Helix are looking for additional partners to take up the reigns of genealogy, fitness or wellness, and inherited traits. 

“We are thrilled to partner with Illumina to transform how consumers interact with their own DNA,” said Noah Knauf, Managing Director, Healthcare at Warburg Pincus. “We believe that the digitization of the genome will unleash entrepreneurs and developers to create new applications for consumers in a way never before possible.”

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