Background

In 1863, Dr. William Mayo and his two sons, both medical practitioners, settled in a small town in rural Minnesota and using a “pooled resource” approach, established what would become “The Mayo Clinic”. It is now one of the largest and most widely recognized integrated health networks in the world employing over 33,000 staff and contributing nearly $10 billion to the regional economy.

Similarly, in 1921, four renowned Cleveland physicians came together “To Act As A Unit” and contributed to the formation of the “Cleveland Clinic”, one of the largest hospital networks in the world. It directly supports over 58,000 households in the greater Cleveland area and generates over $10 billion in regional economic benefit.

Both institutions credit their founder’s commitment to teamwork, collaboration, and “scientific cooperation for the welfare of the sick”. They each garner millions of dollars annually in research investment and endowment support and serve as stellar examples of what can be accomplished when a promising vision is blended with broad engagement, multi-organizational commitment and unwavering resolve.

Such is the opportunity before London.

Since the opening of its first hospital in 1875 and its medical school in 1882, London, Ontario’s medical community has established itself as one of Canada’s most accomplished centres in health care delivery, leading-edge research and education. As the home to a number of national and international medical firsts, London clinicians and scientists have created an impressive legacy that transcends generations. Through multi-disciplinary engagements, the ability to examine and resolve some of the world’s greatest health care challenges has been proven, creating a track record of excellence and medical achievement.

Today, London’s medical sector, which is estimated to be valued at $2 billion annually, is one of the largest and most comprehensive in Canada. Collectively, the community’s hospital network employs over 20,000 clinicians and support staff across seven hospital campuses, over forty community teaching sites and a dozen premier research centres including two globally renowned research institutions, the Robarts Research Institute and the Lawson Health Research Institute. London is also home to Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, a top ten nationally-ranked institution that employs over 2,000 faculty, twenty Canada Research Chairs and hundreds of world-class research teams and principal investigators.

London’s medical and scientific sector specializes in seven established areas and seven emerging areas of research excellence as listed in the Table below.

London’s Pillars of Medical Research Excellence

Established Pillars

Emerging Pillars

Bio Medical Imaging

Innovative Surgery and Simulation 

Maternal, Child and Family Health

Aging and Geriatric Health

Cardiovascular, Respiratory Health

Personalized Medicine

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Health and the Environment

Infection and Immunity

Genomic, Proteomics and Bio-Informatics

Musculoskeletal Health

Health Services, Delivery and Policy

Neuroscience and Brain Health

Population Health

Moreover, each of the areas listed above represent potential opportunities for further multi-disciplinary engagement where clinicians, scientists, researchers, industry players, entrepreneurs and support teams could converge to resolve significant problems in health care for social and economic benefit.

London’s extensive health care capacity is supported by an impressive cache of research assets including: complete pre-clinical to clinical trial capability, a world-class animal test facility, access to a world-class, high performance computing environment, and access to state-of-the-art clinical registry technologies.

The community is also home to one of the top performing research parks in the nation. Currently, Western University’s Discovery Park provides business development, incubation and lab support services to approximately 70 tenants ranging in size from small, early stage companies to multi-nationals. Collectively, Discovery Park tenants employ over 600 knowledge-based workers and contribute over $70 million annually to the regional economy.

London’s medical practitioners have also fostered several long-standing high-value relationships with some of the largest and most reputable names in the health care sector. Collectively, these partnerships contribute $30 million annually in contract research. The partnerships are augmented by a growing number of life sciences companies that call London home. Currently, London can boast a roster of nearly 50 privately-held, local life sciences companies, employing over 1,600 health care staff and contributing upwards of $200 million to the local economy.

Finally, London has developed a very solid reputation commercializing its medical discoveries. London’s medical community has developed and commercialized health care related products and services that collectively generate over $100 million in sales around the globe each year and over $4 million in annual commercial return to the contributing researchers and institutions. London’s clinicians and researchers also collectively hold 108 Issued Patents worldwide and have been involved in the creation of 15 medical-related spin-off companies in the past five years alone, representing one of the largest concentrations of new spin-off companies found anywhere in Canada.

London’s strengths and competitive differentiators relative to other cities elsewhere can be summarized as follows:

  • London is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive concentrations of medical research talent anywhere in Canada.
  • London is home to the complete range of scientific, clinical, testing and data management services necessary to move a medical innovation to market.
  • London is home to one of largest clusters of health care manufacturers and high tech companies in Canada.
  • London is home to one of Canada’s largest research-industry park networks and one of Canada’s most successful commercialization arms both nationally and internationally.
  • London enjoys a material cost advantage over the few cities in Canada that could match London’s research, development & commercialization capacity.

Given the extraordinary breadth and depth of London’s health research and clinical assets, a proven legacy of research excellence, the impressive roster of health care partners in both the public and private sector, and a proven ability to move its discoveries to market, London is well positioned to accelerate medical discovery and commercialization on a globally competitive scale through new approaches and partnerships that address the ‘innovation gap’.

Last year, a number of community leaders from across the City’s medical research and health care sector came together in an attempt to both define and describe this initiative. The outcome was a very exciting concept that sought to ‘fill the innovation gap’ in global health care, one that substantially elevates the reputation and contribution of London’s medical community across the country and around the world. The concept, which is illustrated below proposes a continuum of innovation that identifies relevant health care problems and directs a team of key resources at the problem with a focus on:

Research – Innovation – Commercialization - Resolution

In essence, London’s leaders seek to expand upon the community’s extensive health care and research strengths by establishing the LMIC Network as a cross-discipline, world-class enterprise that will initiate, validate, translate and commercialize medical research and discoveries into market-ready health care solutions that create wealth and prosperity both locally and abroad.

The Network will not merely mimic the success of similar team-based Centres such as Mayo and Cleveland; it will create a legacy in health care innovation and commercialization that will address current gaps in the health care sector for economic and social gain. This comprehensive research concept-to-commercialization process called the Commercialization Continuum can be best conveyed and described in the Illustration and examples below.

 

investment diagram

In an impressive display of community engagement and collaboration, a number of London’s business, academic, civic, institutional and foundation leaders have come together to build on the community’s equally impressive clinical legacy and create the London Medical Innovation & Commercialization (LMIC) Network.  The LMIC Network represents an exciting new city-wide health care enterprise that will materially advance global innovation and local industry in the health sector for years to come.

Specifically, the LMIC Network will oversee the development of a series of interdisciplinary collaborative centres of medical research innovation and commercialization that will augment select Pillars of Medical Research Excellence within the community and place London at the leading edge of medical advances and application.  The Network will also focus on testing, validating and translating these innovative products and processes into economic and social benefits for our communities locally, nationally and internationally.  A unique multi-institutional joint-venture that includes Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute, London Health Sciences Centre, St. Joseph’s Health Care London, the City of London, and the public and private sector; the LMIC Network will bring together the expertise of otherwise separate entities into a true partnership, and leverage our collective strengths and build capacity in leading-edge research, health care, training and entrepreneurship in shared foci of strategic health and economic importance.   Top clinicians and scientists, including new recruits, from across multiple disciplines will focus collectively on identifying and resolving some of the world’s more challenging health care problems through leading-edge research that will take place at the convergence of life sciences, physical sciences, engineering and imaging. Equally as important, the Network would be augmented with entrepreneurs, business development experts, technical and support staff, and industry partners to not only resolve a health care issue but also seek to commercialize the solution and deliver it to market for broad application, and social and economic gain.  All the work done within the Network will contribute to a healthier world and a wealthier economy.

London’s health care community is uniquely positioned and deeply committed to realizing this vision.  All of the Network stakeholders speak as one in support of this initiative and recognize that its success is critical to not just restoring the region’s hard-hit economy but will also help place southwestern Ontario among the world’s leading health care communities.

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