DNA collection company Genomics Medicine Ireland reports €37.7m loss

State-backed company records loss in year in which $400m investment was announced

State-backed DNA collection company Genomics Medicine Ireland (GMI) ran up pretax losses of $41.8 million (€37.7 million) in the year it was announced it was receiving a $400 million investment.

This compares to losses of €13.2 million a year earlier, newly filed accounts for the company show.

GMI, which was founded in 2015, is leading one of the world’s most ambitious genome research programme to gather the DNA of a tenth of the Irish population for private research.

The company was acquired by Chinese genomics specialists WuXi Nextcode for an undisclosed sum as part of the $400 million programme, which was announced in late November 2018.

The Irish Strategic Investment Fund, an €8 billion State-backed fund that operates under the umbrella of the National Treasury Management Agency, invested $70 million in the project, while other backers include Arch Venture Partners, Polaris Partners, Temasek, Yungeng Capital and Sequoia Capital.

Under the terms of the investment, $225 million was committed to GMI in the near term increasing to $400 million in line with the achievement of certain milestone.

GMI recorded turnover of $11.6 million in 2018, up from just $1.12 million a year earlier. Over the same period, cost of sales jumped from $7.5 million to $19 million, with administrative expenses rising to $16 million from $9.4 million.

Research and development costs totalled $13.5 million, as against $8.8 million in the prior year.

The company ended 2018 with net liabilities of $84.4 million, versus $40.6 million in 2017.

The decision by ISIF to back the project has raised eyebrows both locally and further afield, as has concerns over the running of the project by a private company.

These concerns increased after the Data Protection Commission (DPC) launched a "widespread compliance and supervision" examination of GMI and its clinical partners late last year, following complaints about how it gathered and processed DNA data from some of the State's largest hospitals.

The information gathered by the DPC may be used for a full statutory investigation of the company, if the commissioner decides to proceed with one.

In it latest accounts, GMI directors said is “has a robust data privacy and security programme in place to ensure best in class compliance with GDPR and other applicable regulations.”

The company employed 69 people at the end of 2018, up from 35 a year earlier. Under the investment programme, as many as 600 people are expected to be employed by GMI locally when it is fully up and running.

Staff costs, including wages and salaries, rose to $8.6 million from $3.8 million while directors’ emoluments increased from $269,358 to $466,855.