MedCity, Genomics England and the UK BioIndustry Association hosted a Biotech Showcase event, as part of JP Morgan Week, in San Francisco this week. Joanne Hackett, Genomics England Chief Commercial Officer, provides her overview of the opportunities raised by the 'Generation Genome and the Industrial Strategy' panel.

In business, the term ‘rainmaker’ means someone who generates new opportunities. As I look out on a rain-drenched San Francisco, this seems particularly apt.

For four days in January the city becomes the global centre of healthcare investment, as the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference comes to town. It is an event that gathers together the industry’s big beasts, thought leaders, fast-moving start-ups and innovation investors.

The UK genomics industry is here and − as befits a world-leader − here in force. On 8 January the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA), Genomics England and MedCity co-hosted a panel at Biotech Showcase bringing together the brightest and best to demonstrate capabilities of the UK’s genomics industry.

Representatives from over 40 investors, established pharma players and emerging businesses came to discover how they can tap into UK genomics technologies and the powerful data in Genomics England’s database. As of this month, we have sequenced 44,633 whole genomes and will have completed the 100,000 genomes project by the end of the year.

These organisations heard from a panel that included some of the companies using the Genomics England database to maximise patient benefit, including Inivata, Congenica and Eagle Genomics. They are harnessing this data to help design precision clinical trials, develop new drugs, provide decision support to clinicians and also allow for new techniques (e.g. ctDNA) to be developed and tested.

Sir John Chisholm, Executive Chair of Genomics England, set the scene by explaining how the UK Government’s clear commitment to genomics – strengthened in its recently published Industrial Strategy − has created an opportunity-rich industry environment. The unique depth and breadth of our data stems from the combination of millions of clinical data points that are linked to the whole genome: only possible in a comprehensive healthcare system such as the NHS. As Sir John said, “By embedding genomics into the UK’s healthcare system, the government has ensured the success of UK genomics.”

MedCity’s Eliot Forster, the Chair of the panel, said that the UK’s Genomics sector is expected to outpace the global market. This growth reflects the UK’s pioneering industry and research, including work at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the Centre for Population Genomic Medicine, and Harwell Campus.

Understandably, a significant part of the discussion centred on ways that companies can partner with us and utilise our data. I took the opportunity to raise the profile of our Discovery Forum, which is open to new members. The Forum connects specialised companies to the right opportunities, with a focus on turning the value of our data into patient benefit as quickly as possible.

Sir John and I have been in San Francisco for a few days now with a packed schedule – which isn’t letting up anytime soon. Together with colleagues from the UK genomics industry, we are working to generate new opportunities − rainmaking  to realise patient benefit and kickstart a thriving UK genomics sector.

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