There are at least a dozen companies that claim to develop new DNA sequencing technology. How many of them will actually release commercially viable products in the next few years?
Oxford Nanopore Technologies clearly leads the pack and has announced that it will release its sequencing devices later this year.
The company that seems to be second closest in terms of releasing a sequencer is Genia, whose technology is also nanopore-based. It has attracted more than $10m in funding, and is expected to market its technology in 2013.
Companies that have not yet made a public announcement on a potential release date but have attracted substantial investment are Nabsys ($17m funding), GnuBio ($8m funding), Stratos ($7m funding), and possibly LaserGen ($5m funding).
Companies that are thought to develop sequencing technology but that have attracted less investment, or whose finances are unknown, are Noblegen, Base 4 Innovation, Electron Optica, Halcyon, Lightspeed Genomics, and ZS Genetics. Of these, clear signs of activity only come from Noblegen, with a rumoured 2014 release data, and Base 4, which has recently started a recruitment drive.
Whether Base 4 is actually developing sequencing technology is not entirely clear. Their website only hints at single-molecule detection platforms, whilst at least one third-party website also mentions solid-state DNA sequencing.
If only half of these companies are successful in developing a commercially viable product and join the six companies that are already sell next generation sequencers (Illumina, Life Technologies, Roche, Complete Genomics, Pacific Biosciences, Intelligent BioSystems), it is going to be a crowded marketplace.
The really interesting question will be whether there is demand for that many different technologies. Will they all be able to find their own niche?