Ireland’s €8.9bn sovereign wealth fund has invested in a medical technology group aiming to become a major employer in the country.

In a statement released today, the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) said it had contributed $70m (€62m) to a $400m collaborative investment in WuXi NextCode, a specialist genomic technology company, to fund an acquisition in Ireland that could create 600 new “high value” jobs.

ISIF invested alongside Singapore’s SGD275bn (€176.6bn) Temasek sovereign fund, as well as high-profile private equity firms Sequoia Capital and Yunfeng Capital.

The investment has allowed WuXi NextCode to acquire Genomics Medicine Ireland (GMI) and will fund what ISIF described as “one of the world’s largest whole genome sequencing programmes”.

Paul Saunders, ISIF’s head of innovation, said: “This investment shows ISIF’s ability to act as a catalyst for major investment in high-value economic activity in Ireland by teaming up with top-tier co-investment partners from around the globe…

“This is an excellent example of ISIF’s ‘double bottom line’ mandate of supporting economic activity and employment in Ireland while seeking a commercial return.”

In 2017, ISIF invested €667m in domestic companies and projects, and helped attract a further €1bn from other co-investors.

Ireland to create major life sciences hub

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar, Irish prime minister

GMI was to become a “cornerstone” of a new International Centre for Advanced Life Sciences, modelled on Dublin’s technology hub, known as Silicon Docks, according to ISIF’s statement.

Leo Varadkar, prime minister of Ireland, said the investment would help position Ireland as world centre for genomics and other medical research.

“Twenty-four of the world’s largest pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are located here, creating valuable employment and contributing to our economic success,” Varadkar said.

“With this partnership between GMI, ISIF and WuXi NextCode we are creating an ecosystem of expertise in advanced life sciences right here in Ireland. That, in turn, will ultimately deliver better health and wellness management to people and patients in Ireland and turn the advances we make here into benefits for people around the world.”

According to today’s announcement, GMI aimed to collect data from 400,000 volunteers from across Ireland – roughly 10% of the country’s population – which ISIF said would “help to deliver healthcare benefits to Irish patients and create a unique platform for research and discovery of new precision medicines for the treatment of life-limiting conditions which currently have no cure”.

Sequoia Capital was an early stage investor in a number of major technology companies including Google and Apple, while Yunfeng Capital was co-founded by Jack Ma, chairman of Chinese retail giant Alibaba and specialises in Chinese private equity.