Published Thursday, March 21, 2019 7:57PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 21, 2019 8:23PM EDT
Western University is dropping out of London city hall’s most ambitious job creation strategy.
Late Thursday afternoon, the university announced its intention to withdraw from the London Medical Network.
In its statement, the university says:
The continued confusion regarding the nature of the university’s participation in LMN detracts from existing projects, as well as the development of future partnerships with the private sector, that can directly support medical innovation and benefit the local economy. As such we are withdrawing from LMN but will continue to support medical innovation through other means.
Despite the blow, the co-chair of the LMN governing council tells CTV London, the initiative still serves a vital role.
“Absolutely the network continues,” says Paul Caplan. “It has a very important role for the city and that’s creating jobs.”
In 2015, city council approved a $10 million grant to get the network off the ground. Western would invest an additional $20 million.
The network promised 550 highly skilled jobs would be created – commercializing local medical breakthroughs into products.
Only 55 jobs had been created as of September 2018.
Speaking to CTV London, former mayor Matt Brown expressed concerns regarding the LMN targets.
“Certainly, 340 to 550 jobs in a short term were promised and I don’t think we have seen anywhere close to those kinds of numbers,” said Brown.
The relationship between the university and city hall has been test recently following a number of controversies.
An agreement to operate London’s Bus Rapid Transit Plan on Western’s campus was to be in place April 2018, but no deal has been reached. Efforts were also made to end the annual FOCO party on Broughdale Avenue have been in the spotlight, leading mayor Ed Holder to issue a grim assessment:
“There will be blood on all of our hands.”
Fanshawe College political science professor, Matt Farrell, says city hall and the university face different pressures and timelines to deliver results.
“When you are an elected official, it’s a very different animal,” says Farrell. “If a policy initiative is not materializing or you are not delivering on a promise, you have people knocking on your door.”
Mayor Holder and the city manager have asked for a meeting of the network’s board to discuss its future.
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