In my capacity as the first CEO of the London Medical Network, I have enjoyed the privilege of working with many of the city’s health care leaders to develop the business plan and initiate the operating network charged with delivering London’s innovation and job creation agenda in the medical and health care fields.
As such, it should be of no surprise that I am a huge believer in this strategy and huge advocate for our continued investment in it. Specifically, I believe that:
- London can become known in name and practice as the nation’s leading health care community.
- London can develop an health care apparatus that matches the recognition and economic output of similar health innovation centres as the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic.
And while the road to building such a noteworthy enterprise is likely to be painstaking long, I hold this perspective for several reasons.
- London’s health care sector is already formidable, contributing approximately $2 billion to the economy annually and employing an estimated 21,000 workers city-wide. As a result, health care is second only to manufacturing in economic contribution and employment in the city.
- While London is Canada’s 10th largest city by population, it is home to the 5th largest medical cluster in the country, two of most reputable research Institutes (Robarts and Lawson) in the field, and one of the largest concentration of medical researchers per capita anywhere in North America.
- London has already established its credentials as an innovative medical community. Since the formal inception of the region’s first medical school in 1882, London’s researchers and clinicians have amassed an incredible track record of medical innovation, one that rivals any medical community anywhere in the world.
Fortunately, the sector-specific strategies to capitalize on this opportunity are now in place. They include:
- Identifying and prioritizing those select areas of medical research in London that best lend themselves to impactful innovation and then assembling innovation teams comprised of research and industry players to monetize the opportunity and create jobs.
- Recruiting and retaining world-class medical research leaders capable of building London’s medical innovation capabilities.
- Collaborating with London’s impressive roster of health care assets to help introduce the innovations to the marketplace and create better patient outcomes.
- Loudly amplifying London’s long-standing and continued success in this sector – effectively making London synonymous with great health care in Canada.
It is worth noting that the London Medical Network (LMN) has already begun to make strides in this area. They include the recent establishment of a partnership between Western, the LMN and UK-based Renishaw PLC to establish a state-of-art 3-D additive manufacturing centre for medical devices. Western and Lawson have also done an impressive job recently recruiting and retaining four world-class medical researchers to our community.
However, it is also important to recognize that the economic and social impacts of this initiative will be neither immediate or evident for some time. The transition of medical innovation from the lab setting to the marketplace is incredibly long, sometimes arduous and often less visible to general populace. Still, the long-term benefits of creating a strong health-based economy that builds wealth and social good both locally and abroad, will prove worthy of London’s legacy and rewarding to its citizens.
It took the Mayo Clinic nearly 100 years to develop its $9 billion, 60,000-employee medical economy. In my opinion, London, with a little patience and lot of perseverance, has the assets and ability to reach a similar level of economic and social value in much less time.