Illumina to invest $273M in U.K. after striking genome-sequencing deal

The British government has unveiled a major funding boost for its 100,000 Genomes Project, with a further $506 million (£300 million) set to be spent over the next four years. Illumina ($ILMN) is responsible for more than half of the cash, with the U.S. sequencing giant due to invest $273 million in England.

Illumina is expected to focus the investment on Cambridge, the city in which the sequencing center at the heart of the 100,000 Genomes Project will be based. The Wellcome Trust has allocated $45 million to build the sequencing center, which will house Genomics England--the group running the 100,000 Genomes Project--and the Sanger Institute. As well as investing in the region, Illumina is providing sequencing services to the project as part of a $132 million deal.

Other groups are also contributing to the initiative, with the Medical Research Council set to invest $40 million to ensure researchers have the computing power to analyze and interpret the data. With the National Health Service (NHS) also setting aside $34 million to open centers from which people with cancer and rare diseases will be invited to have their genomes sequenced, the project now has a framework for the path from first contact with patients through to mining the resulting databases.

Many details are still being ironed out--and the project may ultimately fail to live up to the hype--but the new funding still represents a big push into genomics by the U.K. "This project confirms the U.K. as a leader in the global race to implement genomic technology and create a lasting legacy for patients, the NHS and the U.K. economy," Illumina CEO Jay Flatley said in a statement.

- read Genomics England's release
- here's the FT's take (sub. req.)