Elise McCormick and Joanne Sherrard of Dawson City are the winners of the third annual Yukon Innovation Prize, taking home a grand prize of $60,000 for Aurum Birch Sap Skincare.
The product uses birch sap in an all-natural solution, which is highly effective as a skin moisturizer.
“The birch sap is the foundation, the raw material, but the really special thing about it is the fact that we’re treating it with specialized enzymes to create a cosmeceutical solution,” said Sherrard.
“It’s not just birch sap that they’re directly putting on their skin. It’s a formulation exclusive to us.”
The sap is all harvested from trees in the Dawson area. “We had our first season of harvesting this spring. All you do is tap the tree and the birch sap just comes on out,” said Sherrard.
McCormick and Sherrard had been searching for an innovative way to make use of Yukon’s natural resources for a few years before coming across birch sap.
“It’s the perfect under-utilized natural resource,” said Sherrard.
Theirs was one of 23 initial submissions to the prize, created by Yukon College’s Cold Climate Innovation and the territorial Department of Economic Development in 2014.
After submitting a business plan, the group was narrowed down to five contestants who pitched their ideas to a panel of experts and then answered questions. The winner was announced later that day.
“We’re really excited,” said Sherrard. “The product works really well.”
The project is now going ahead with beta testing and working toward an official launch.
“Opportunities like this don’t come around often so we really want to use it in the best way possible. We’re doing everything we can to make sure this product is exceptional,” said Sherrard.
There’s still work to be done before the product is on the market, but the public can follow Aurum’s progress at shopaurum.ca.
The project’s name — Aurum means gold in Latin — is a nod to the product’s origins in the Klondike.
Contact Andrew Seal at firstname.lastname@example.org