Illumina to Buy Pacific Biosciences For $1.2Bn : Less Competition than Ever in NGS?

Just over a year ago, I wrote this article. It was all about the companies who I thought were attempting to compete with, if not topple, Illumina in the NGS market. Safe to say that with last Friday’s news that Illumina are making their biggest ever acquisition of Pacific Biosciences means that they are more dominant than ever.


The acquisition will likely fill any gaps in their extensive portfolio as PB’s long read technology is a complementary service offering to their current offering. In my article last year I spoke about the important of competition on the market and with today’s news that looks as though it’s become a more pressing issue than ever.

So when it comes to competition for $45B Illumina, who’s left? And who should we be looking out for?

First, the Non-Movers

Realistically, a year isn’t a long time in business. So it’s not a surprise that some of the companies I mentioned in last year’s article haven’t made huge amounts of progress. Both Nabsys and the Roche/ Genia collaboration haven’t posted any major updates about their platforms hitting the market.

Who’s Making Waves?

Firstly, sticking with the companies I mentioned in last year’s article, Genapsys haven’t made any recent announcements about their progress but have been recruiting heavily. They could well be close to bringing something to market.

As always in NGS there’s also been some fascinating start ups marching onto the scene and making headway. The San Francisco start-up Quantapore received a $15.6M fundraising in their efforts to bring another type of Nanopore sequencing system to the market. These guys could really be ones to watch over the next couple of years.

In the North West US Stratos Genomics are another company to keep a close eye on. They raised another $20M in January. Their CEO Mark Kokoris recently said:

“Our recent development breakthroughs put us in position to evaluate a number of strategic options and open discussions with partners who share our vision”

Stratos recently released pictures of their new system

We still don’t know much about how they’re progressing, but with that sort of capital behind them they’re certainly a business I’m excited about.

Omniome are another company to keep your eye on. In July, they received a whopping $60M lead by Chinese investors in the development of their own sequencing platform. They’ve backed this funding up with a big drive on hiring of their own. They also have a really interesting product from a technological stand point which is sure to make a big impact when it comes to commercialisation.

UK-based Oxford Nanopore is now valued at £1.5bn, so they’re one of the few businesses left in the market with a 8-figure turnover who could look to challenge Illumina. They’ve just raised over £100M in investment from the APAC region which should enable them to make and execute some serious growth plans. It still remains to be seen if Illumina’s market share will suffer though – or if they could be the next acquisition target.

Lastly DNA Electronic cannot be ignored as they have NGS pioneer Nick McCook on board. His know-how will certainly them with their introduction of a new NGS system which is aiming to change the way we provide diagnostics. I’ve seen them growing their R&D and commercial teams of late too – another sure sign that they aren’t too far away from infiltrating an exciting niche market.

DNAe's Lidia System

Looking Ahead

It remains to be seen what impact the Illumina/ PB acquisition will have on the wider market, but it’s sure to send shock waves. As the move is sure to swell Illumina’s immense profits even further it will have many others asking questions about the NGS landscape in 2019 and what it means for their business.

What impact do you think this will have? Could this move mean we see more mergers, and a major competitor emerge to finally challenge Illumina? Let me know in the comments, as well as who you think we should look out for in 2019.


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