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BGI to Receive $1.5B in 'Collaborative Funds' Over 10 Years from China Development Bank


By Julia Karow

This article, originally posted Jan. 11, has been updated with additional information from BGI.

BGI, China's largest genome center, said last week that under a collaborative agreement it signed with the China Development Bank last month, it will receive $1.5 billion in 'collaborative funds' over the next 10 years.

The funding will "help BGI build research and application platforms for sustainable development in agriculture, bio-energy, personalized healthcare, and related fields," according to a statement from the institute.

Zhuo Li, vice president of international collaborations at BGI, told In Sequence by e-mail that the funding is a long-term loan and does not involve other parties besides the bank. BGI plans to use the money both to build infrastructure and to cover its running costs.

He said BGI will determine how much of the funding to use each year, depending on its strategic and development plans.

According to Li, BGI has in the past received funding from government agencies for buildings and facilities, as well as research grants. He said it will be hard to predict how much public funding the institute will receive going forward.

CDB is one of three so-called policy banks in the People's Republic of China. According to CDB's website, the bank supports "infrastructure development initiatives, basic industries, and pillar industries" in China and promotes "coordination in regional development and restructuring key industries."

In the past, the bank has supported several "national key projects," including the South-to-North Water Diversion, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, and the Shougang Group relocation project.

BGI, which is headquartered in Shenzhen and has branches in other locations, changed its name from Beijing Genomics Institute two years ago, according to Li, to better reflect that it is no longer exclusively located in Beijing.

The institute has research centers in the US, Europe, and Hong Kong, as well as seven genome research centers in mainland China for scientific collaboration and sequencing services.