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Chinese Genomics Firm Annoroad Raises $105M

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) –  Beijing-based genomics firm Annoroad has completed a round of financing in which it raised nearly $105 million from several investors.

The round, which was completed in two stages, was co-led by Shenzhen GTJA Investment group and Ping An Ventures. Other investors included SBCVC and SAIF Partners China. The company declined to disclose how much was raised in each stage of the round.

Annoroad provides next-generation sequencing-based products and services for diagnostic use and life science research. Its portfolio includes sequencing and data analysis offerings for genetic disease testing, diagnosis and treatment of tumors, non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), and genetic health screening.

In 2015, Annoroad unveiled a plan to co-develop NGS-based clinical tests for the reproductive health market in China that combined its nucleic acid extraction, library preparation, and data analysis software with Illumina's sequencing technology. Its NextSeq 550AR sequencing and its NIPT reagent kit have been approved by the China Food and Drug Administration and are widely used by customers in China, according to the company.

The new funding offers "fresh impetus" for Annoroad to implement sustainable development practices in the hardware, diagnostics, and cloud service markets among other sectors, CEO Chongjian Chen said in a statement. Annoroad plans to use the funds to expand its business, improve its research and development capabilities and infrastructure, as well as invest in new genomics technologies, among other upgrades.

Specifically, the company will focus on growing its overseas business as well as on improving its current product portfolio, Fei Xiao, the director of the president's office at Annoroad, said in an email. Further, the company plans to optimize its current genetic testing procedures with an eye towards shortening detection times and reducing the associated costs for customers.

Xiao also said that some of the funds will be invested in further developing SolarGenomics, a cloud-based platform that the company released earlier this year to provide a one-stop shop for bioinformatics pipelines and data storage infrastructure for small research organizations and clinical laboratories looking to incorporate omics data into their practices. In addition to pipelines for whole-genome and whole-exome analysis and other tasks, SolarGenomics includes software for sample and content management and tracking as well as access to whole-genome sequence data from roughly half a million Chinese individuals.

Other plans for the funds include increasing the company's headcount, providing training for employees, and continued monitoring of developments in the genetic testing arena, Xiao said.