Innovative diversity thriving in London

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Large multinationals, fast growing mid-sized ventures, and exciting start-ups are finding success thanks to the rich and multi-faceted research and innovation ecosystem in London, Ontario.

There is so much momentum being built locally to support entrepreneurs and ventures from ideation to start-up and scaleup,” said Kapil Lakhotia, CEO at London Economic Development Corporation.

“It’s such a vibrant innovation ecosystem that has the high impact research institutes and agencies and all the resources needed to assist with organic growth and the kind of transformational growth that comes from innovation.”

London has developed into an innovation hub and a centre of product development in health care and medical devices, agri-food, digital media and technology, banking, finance and insurance, advanced manufacturing, transportation and aerospace and defence.

“The diversity of industries and talent makes for a depth of innovation that is unique,” said Lakhotia. “There is a foundation of historic and leading brands, such as 3M, McCormack, Labatt and Nestle, and over the last several years the city has seen the emergence of a number of successes that have attracted international attention.”

Located in the heart of the southwestern region of Ontario, exactly halfway between Toronto and Detroit, London is one of Canada’s fastest growing cities and the 11th-largest urban centre in the country at more than 530,000 people. It is a multinational hub, with 25 per cent of its population being born abroad and 140 languages spoken by its residents.

London offers a terrific balance of city amenities, natural beauty, and career opportunities, says Lakhotia.

“It’s a safe, neighbourhood-focused urban centre with downtown amenities in art and culture, great post-secondary institutions, and world-class healthcare. There is everything you want in a city here. It has the convenience, charm and comfort of a small town but the quality of life and economic power of a big city.”

Innovation through partnership

London’s enviable innovation strength is built upon foundational institutions, including: Brescia University College, Huron University College, Kings University College, Western University, its three Western Research parks and the Western Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship (MIFE); Fanshawe College and its Leap Junction accelerator; leading healthcare institutions and the cutting-edge medical research of the Lawson Health Research Institute, Robarts Research Institute, and the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University.

Those institutions have partnered in a number of ways to drive the results of research.

WORLDiscoveries, the business development and commercialization arm of a partnership between Western University, Robarts Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, seeks to reinforce London’s place as a preeminent commercialization centre in North America.

In addition, Western, Fanshawe and the City of London have partnered on the Advanced Manufacturing Research Park where research, testing, prototype development and product commercialization is driving economic development for the city. A particular area of strength at the park is composite and lightweight materials in the transportation and agri-food sectors.

An exciting new venture is the agri food incubator called The Grove, a partnership between LEDC – Small Business Centre, Libro, Fanshawe Western London Training Centre, the Western Fair Association and RH Accelerator. Located at the Western Fair Entertainment District, it provides the access to equipment, facilities, capital and mentorship needed by food entrepreneurs and high potential agri-food companies to commercialize new products, create jobs, and grow market share.

FedDev Ontario recently invested $7.2 million in The Grove, which will leverage the unique expertise of London’s postsecondary institutions and build on the existing strength of region’s agri-food sector, which includes more than 90 companies employing more than 7,000 people.

Deep ecosystem

London has a strong support system for innovators and investigators and it’s only growing.

TechAlliance is Ontario’s Regional Innovation Centre for Southwestern Ontario, and is place for dreamers, innovators, and world-changing ideas. TechAlliance empowers world-class ventures and fuels growth in Canada’s innovation economy. They do this collaboratively by championing, coaching, and amplifying businesses, and fostering a vibrant technology community of innovators.

London is also home to RH Accelerator, a privately owned incubator located on Waterloo Street, which works with highgrowth companies.

“That’s a really exciting initiative that has led to investment that is fuelling growth and product development. It’s so great to have private investment complementing government efforts,” said Lakhotia.

As well, Fanshawe is developing Innovation Village, a physical and virtual commercialization hub featuring one stop supports, collaborative workspaces, virtual reality and multimedia labs, a maker space, project rooms, research support, a food processing lab and cutting-edge equipment. It attracted $3 million in FedDev Ontario funding in late 2020.

And to build on London’s power in the digital media and technology sector, which includes more than 300 companies employing 10,000 people, LEDC is launching a yet-to-be-named office to accelerate the creation of content in London across the spectrum of film, TV, streaming services, gaming, animation, sound and music production, and artificial and virtual reality.

To learn more about investing, expanding, relocating or starting up in London please visit the LEDC website here