In early January 2010 Illumina made a big announcment – BGI was to purchase 128 of Illumina's brand new HiSeq 2000 sequencers. (In Sequence 1/12/10). Not to be outdone, Life Technologies followed up with their own announcement a couple of weeks later – the 'not quite yet formed' Ignite Institute was to purchase 100 of Life's brand new SOLiD 4 sequencers. (Genome Web 1/28/10)
Inside Illumina there was a lot of skepticism (myself included) about Life's announcement. It just seemed like a desperate ploy to detract attention from the BGI announcement. In the back of my mind, however, I wondered if I was being too pessimistic in my Kool-Aid drinking. Turns out the answer was 'not so much'.
Ignite ran into a number of troubles with funding and the purchases never happened. In fact, Ignite never 'happened'. Instead it sort of merged with the Fox Chase Cancer during the formation of the 'Cancer Genome Institute at Fox Chase'. Perhaps most telling was that when Fox Chase forged their own partnership with Life the 'Ignite' name wasn't mentioned. As quoted in Kevin Davies article:
“We didn’t mention Ignite [when that was announced] – that was intentional,” Boyd explains. “We got tired of negative reporters who want to dig into what happened to Ignite [in Northern Virginia] and dredge up that experience.”
Negative experience, indeed!
As for BGI, they certainly still exist and they've actually purchased all 128 HiSeq 2000's (plus a few more). And they continue to draw strong reactions - praise, scorn and fear, to name a few.
(Lest anyone think I'm unfairly picking on Life, Illumina has been known to make a stumble or two. I'm looking at you, Avantome ;-)