Illumina, Investors Launch Consumer Genetics Firm

With $100 million in initial funding, Helix aims to make personal genomics accessible.

Aug 19, 2015
Tracy Vence

Illumina Hiseq 2000 sequencers at BGIWIKIMEDIA, SCOTTED400Along with investment firms Warburg Pincus and Sutter Hill Ventures, Illumina is launching a consumer genetics company called Helix, The New York Times’s DealBook reported this week (August 18). Together, the three firms are committing $100 million to the Bay Area-based startup, which Tech Crunch compared to “an application program interface for personalized genetics on one hand and an iTunes for gene-based applications and services on the other.”

Illumina Chief Executive Jay Flatley will take the helm of this new company. According to Bloomberg Business, Helix has already partnered with the Mayo Clinic—which has invested in the startup—and LabCorp.

“The real question in our minds remains the pacing of market development as well as the potential challenges of an uncertain regulatory environment,” Evercore ISI analysts Ross Muken and Vijay Kumar wrote in a note following the Helix announcement, Bloomberg Business reported.

Flatley told MIT Technology Review that Helix aims to make personal genomics more accessible. “With Helix,” Tech Review reported, “companies won’t have to invest in starting a laboratory anymore. Instead, he says, any developer with a computer will be able to start a genomics company.”