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BGI Expands Into Denmark with Plans for $10M Headquarters, Staff of 150

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — BGI will create a $10 million European headquarters in Copenhagen, where it plans to eventually hire up to 150 scientists and support employees.

BGI will recruit between 20 and 50 people during the first year of the Copenhagen HQ — to be called BGI Europe — then establish a sequencing platform allowing for the hiring of between 50 and 100 people. The project will be China's largest investment in Denmark.

The "strong and still growing research community within biotech in Denmark has attracted our attention," Songgang Li, associate director of BGI, said in a statement released yesterday. "We see some interesting prospects for partnership, and I feel confident that we have acted wisely in selecting Denmark as our European base."

BGI expects to generate DKK 5 billion ($829 million) in first-year revenue from the Copenhagen HQ, according to a statement released by Denmark's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Chinese and Danish officials signed an agreement creating BGI's European HQ on May 17, during the Denmark-China Economic & Trade Cooperation Forum held in Copenhagen. The signing ceremony was attended by Denmark's Minister for Economic and Business Affairs Brian Mikkelsen and China's Commerce Minister Chen Deming.

According to the official Chinese government press agency Xinhua, Deming led the largest-ever Chinese trade delegation to visit Denmark, which is China's second largest source of foreign investment. The delegation consisted of more than 100 Chinese entrepreneurs focused on promoting trade and investment with China.

The trade forum was timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Denmark, one of the first Western countries to recognize the People's Republic government.

BGI actually announced the creation of BGI Europe six days before the trade forum on May 11, through a pair of one-sentence statements on its website. One statement said the Copenhagen HQ "will offer scientific and technological collaboration and services to the whole European countries, providing R&D in technology and products, [and] seeking out opportunities of cooperative projects in the fields of sequencing and bioinformatics."

The other statement said BGI Europe's priorities include "jointly establishing key laboratories with universities and other research institutes" on the continent.

Founded in 1999 as the Beijing Genomics Institute, BGI is based in Shenzhen. Facilities at BGI Shenzhen include the Sino-Danish Cancer Research Center, opened last year by the institute in cooperation with University of Copenhagen Denmark, Aarhus University, Southern Denmark University and other research institutions. According to BGI, the center uses next-generation sequencing technology for the identification, development, and clinical validation of new biomarkers for early diagnosis of breast cancer.

Denmark is home to more than 130 biotech companies and more than 270 providers of services for the biotech industry, with some 25,000 people employed in the life sciences, Ole Frijs-Madsen, the director of the Danish trade promotion agency Invest in Denmark, said in a statement released by the Danish law firm MAQS, which facilitated the BGI-Danish agreement.

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