Meet the latest genomic data company — aka WuXi NextCODE without the China operations
Just five years after WuXi engineered a deal to merge its genome center with NextCODE Health, the WuXi NextCODE brand is becoming history as the company cuts off the Chinese operations and focuses on the US, Iceland and Ireland.
The new name, Genuity Science, erases all references to WuXi NextCODE’s storied history. The US and Iceland offices of the genomics company were spun out of deCODE Genetics after it got acquired by Amgen — with its own twists and turns. Its $400 million expansion into Ireland took place in late 2018, complete with the acquisition of Genomics Medicine Ireland.
Whereas WuXi NextCODE had moved its headquarters from Shanghai to Cambridge over two years, Genuity will shift its command center to Boston.
According to the company, the reason for cutting off its China ties is purely legal. China tightened its Human Genetics Resource Regulation and other rules in mid-2019, and NextCODE was among many companies that were designated as foreign entities — erecting serious constraints to their work and possibility for growth overnight.
The capabilities they had in Shanghai were “valued by a number of our international customers,” said Rob Brainin, whose cards now say CEO of Genuity.
Now that it’s gone, they have poured more resources in both Dublin and Woburn, MA, to do some of the things their Chinese colleagues used to handle.
Between the three remaining sites, Genuity has more than 200 employees sourcing, consolidating and analyzing genomic data for partners. Recently, they’ve begun supporting Irish research institutions in sequencing the genomes of Covid-19 patients.
Official separation from the Shanghai office is slated for later this year, although Genuity is already considering what to do with it.
Despite the shakeup, its investor base actually remains the same, featuring some marquee names such as Temasek, ARCH and Sequoia Capital. None of them, Brainin felt compelled to add, will have access to sensitive information or internal data.
As he clarified in an email:
WuXi NextCODE is not owned by WuXi AppTec or other WuXi companies. Since 2017, WuXi NextCODE has been operating as an independent private company with former WuXi PharmaTech shareholders serving among the company’s many investors.