Competition and opportunity in the 100 billion-worth gene technology market: Novogene’s development over the last decade
With the continuous expansion of the market and the betterment of global policies, gene technology has been increasingly favored by capital investment since the beginning of the 21st century. It has become an indisputable fact that the gene technology industry holds promise for the future: even with global economic development impeded by the COVID-19 epidemic, the genetic testing industry still managed to raise over ¥10 billion in funding last year. Being at the center of the industry, gene technology service enterprises are inevitably faced with the question of how to deal with the ever-changing pattern of competition and unprecedented development opportunities within the global genetics industry. Developing a deep insight into market and customer needs, and keeping up with industry trends and development directions are among the key factors that will give companies a head start on development.
Going overseas: rapid growth of the industry and accumulation of energy
The 2021 Genetic Industry Blue Book stated that the genetics industry has entered a period of rapid growth and that the Asia-Pacific region, especially China, will gradually become one of the key markets for genetic testing. Over the past decade, with the rapid advancement of genetic testing technology and the continuous decline of testing costs, the scale of China’s genetics market has expanded rapidly. While the domestic gene sequencing industry is growing rapidly, the strength of local enterprises is also gradually emerging, and China’s gene sequencing technology industry is becoming ever more competitive in the international marketplace.
As a leading gene technology service company, Novogene realized from the beginning of its development that, in order to maintain a leading position in the domestic market, it needed to maintain close ties with the international mainstream gene technology service sector and has adopted the “go overseas” strategy to achieve this.
It appears, however, the threshold for entry into the overseas market is relatively high. Therefore, to gain a foothold in the overseas market, Chinese enterprises need to have robust R&D and excellent product quality. This is in addition to winning the trust of customers, as well as facing the challenges of managing personnel, channels, rapid organization, and operation of the brand in the short term and the construction of international legal compliance. After years of overseas development, Novogene has made the global localization operation practical. In 2017, Novogene Tianjin Medical Laboratory, a subsidiary of Novogene, was awarded the first CAP certification in mainland China. In 2018, its US laboratory was awarded CLIA certification and, n 2021, its UK laboratory was awarded ISOIEC 17025:2017 certification.
2021 marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the industry’s forerunner, Novogene. With a globally standardized laboratory management system and service process built by the enterprise, Novogene has set up nine subsidiaries and laboratories overseas, providing reliable gene technology services to over 4,000 top universities, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and other customers in more than 70 countries and regions around the world. It has fully leveraged its strength in technology services to seize the leading position in the market. Novogene’s multitrack layout has given rise to the prosperity of terminal markets across the globe, making it a Chinese representative of global leader enterprises in the industry.
Emergence of multiple application scenario based on scientific services
At present, gene sequencing’s mainstream application scenario lies in the domain of scientific research. In 2019, the application of gene sequencing in the area of scientific research accounted for more than half of the global gene sequencing market. At the same time, with the continuous improvement and upgrading of sequencing technology, the cost of gene sequencing is declining at “super Moore speed”, giving rise to more application scenarios taking root and blossoming. Therefore, it can be observed that prospective prediction and solid scientific research strength will bring more competitive advantages for gene sequencing companies.
As a forerunner in the field of scientific and technological services, Novogene has been serving 96% of the world’s Top 100 institutions for academic research (according to Nature Index 2020). Last month, on the 20th anniversary of the release of the first human genome sequence atlas, Nature’s website published the development history of sequencing technology and 17 important milestones in the past 20 years, including metagenomics, next-generation sequencing technology, single-cell sequencing, pan-genomics, etc. The results of the pan-genomic research of animals and plants jointly facilitated by Novogene are presented on the list. The Novogene team has developed a set of structural variation analysis methods based on whole-genome sequence alignment, which is the first predictive method to comprehensively analyze the genetic variation between wild and domesticated soybean species at the whole-genome level. This research provides methods and inspiration for the follow-up research and development of pan-genome analysis of animals and plants, a consequential milestone.
Such achievements did not happen overnight, however. Novogene’s ascension over the last ten years coincides with the golden decade of gene sequencing led by NGS sequencing technology. Over this period, NGS has played an important role in genomics research, becoming the core technology in exploring the scientific road ahead and promoting application development. Based on high-throughput sequencing (NGS) and bioinformatics analysis, Novogene has established a leading gene sequencing platform with high-throughput scale, combined with multi-omics research technology to provide multi-level research services and solutions for basic life science, medical, and clinical application research. At the same time, based on the technology accumulation in gene sequencing and its application field, we have independently developed innovative genetic testing medical devices. For example, the Class III medical device “Human EGFR, KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA, ALK, ROS1 gene mutation detection kit (semiconductor sequencing method)”, which passed the NMPA special review and approval of innovative medical devices in August of 2018. It is one of the first tumor gene detection kits based on high-throughput sequencing approved for marketing in China.
Technological empowerment: leading midstream service providers to new opportunities
In recent years, emerging infrastructure, such as 5G, big data, and blockchain has developed rapidly. In this context, the intelligentization of the gene sequencing industry is of great significance in providing more efficient and accurate results. By August of 2020, global financing for genetic testing companies reached ¥60 billion, an increase of 89% year-on-year. In the whole industry chain of gene sequencing, midstream sequencing service providers have the highest growth rate. It is a must for enterprises to strengthen their own intelligent production and refinement of management to improve efficiency while expanding the scale of services to meet the rapidly growing needs of the industry. At present, Novogene is one of the enterprises that has planned in advance and performed well in the process of intelligent transformation.
Last March, Novogene’s global NGS flexible intelligent delivery system was officially launched. With years of technology accumulation, Novogene has developed exclusive intelligent solutions to break the collaboration isolation in the NGS sequencing process and has realized intelligent operations from sample extraction, detection, library building, library inspection, library pooling, and bioinformatics analysis. Compared with artificial sequencing, the Falcon intelligent delivery platform shortens the delivery cycle by 60% and saves manpower by 70%. According to Dr. Li Ruiqiang, founder of Novogene, the core of the construction of the Falcon intelligent delivery platform is to shatter the traditions and create a platform with a faster delivery cycle and more stable delivery quality.
As a leading global genomics product and solution provider, Novogene, with its solid technological strength and forward-looking market forecast, has always been at the forefront of the industry. When faced with competition and opportunities in the genomics field, the enterprise actively promoted industrial innovation. Novogene is undoubtedly in the vanguard in all aspects: from global strength to business extension capability of multi-point growth, to the layout of intelligent transformation, the enterprise is taking solid steps toward greater success.