Lana Selbee, Yukonstruct executive director, poses for a photo at Yukonstruct on Nov. 16. A week-long celebration of Yukon innovation is bringing together entrepreneurs and innovators from across the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Lana Selbee, Yukonstruct executive director, poses for a photo at Yukonstruct on Nov. 16. A week-long celebration of Yukon innovation is bringing together entrepreneurs and innovators from across the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Celebrating Yukon innovation

2020 marks first Yukon Innovation Week

A week-long celebration of Yukon innovation is bringing together entrepreneurs and innovators from throughout the territory, providing resources and ideas, and celebrating the accomplishments of Yukoners who are moving their ideas forward.

Tech Yukon, Yukon University, Yukonstruct, Skills Canada Yukon and the Yukon Entrepreneur Podcast series together kicked off Yukon Innovation Week 2020 on Nov. 16 with a series of events continuing until Nov 21.

The week falls in line with Canada Innovation Week 2020, which aims to bring together “partners and stakeholders from the innovation ecosystem to connect, cultivate and celebrate Canadian innovation.”

The first Canadian Innovation Week was held in 2018 with this year marking the first time Yukon Innovation Week has been held in the territory.

While Canadian Innovation Week events will be held virtually in light of COVID-19, a few Yukon Innovation Week events can be held in-person (such as one-on-one mentoring sessions) with COVID-19 restrictions in place though most will happen virtually due to the pandemic.

Yukonstruct executive director Lana Selbee said in a Sept. 16 interview there’s been excitement around Canadian Innovation Week with Yukonstruct and its partners seeing it as an opportunity to focus on and celebrate innovation in the territory by hosting its own Yukon Innovation Week.

“We wanted to celebrate innovation here in the North,” she said.

While wanting to celebrate, doing so during a pandemic meant the celebrations and events aren’t what they would otherwise be.

As Selbee noted of the NorthLight Innovation Centre, “We love to bring people into this space.”

The end result is a mix of activities. Where COVID-19 restrictions can be met, in-person events are scheduled.

Julie Nielsen, innovation and entrepreneurship marketing coordinator at Yukon University, opens the Yukon Innovation Week website on Nov. 16. Most events for the week will be held online due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

This includes one-on-one half hour mentoring sessions that will give innovators a chance to explore their ideas and how to make them a reality as well as workshops, panel discussions and the Beer O’Clock networking event set for Nov. 19.

While the Hall of Innovators Awards Ceremony scheduled for Nov. 20 will be streamed online, there will be a small in-person ceremony for those nominated for awards.

Meanwhile, a much longer list of virtual events include online presentations focused on topics like entrepreneurial thinking in government, digital marketing and more; information sessions on things like various programs available to entrepreneaurs and innovators.

Also throughout the week, the Yukon Entrepreneur Podcast is featuring interviews with those in the tech industry.

“You’ll hear how their businesses are evolving during the pandemic and what they’re getting ready for next. It’s an exciting and transformative time to be working in the north and Yukon’s burgeoning technology scene is breaking trails across Canada and going global.” series creator Kari Johnston said in a statement.

One of the biggest events to happen online will take place from 6 p.m. Nov. 20 to 6 p.m. Nov. 21.

Design Jam Local will be a 24-hour competition aimed at sparking ideas that could revitalize the local economy and communities.

“On the weekend, Design Jam Local offers Yukoners a chance to contribute their ideas in support of the local business community, with a focus on tourism and retail, as well as increase their skills in design thinking and ideation,” Selbee said.

As noted on the Yukon Innovation Week website, business and/or tech experience isn’t required to be part of the session. Participants can register here.

Along with the events happening throughout the week, many innovators may soon be getting to work on their ideas for the 2021 Yukon Innovation Prize.

Yukon University and the Yukon government announced the details for the 2021 prize on Nov. 17.

The theme for the year is “innovation for recovery” in response to COVID-19 and it’s impact on the Yukon.

“Yukoners have experienced the effects of COVID-19 on their economy, health, and society; innovation can play a central role in recovering from this,” Eoin Sheridan, project innovation officer for Yukon University, said in a statement. “The Yukon Innovation Prize supports Yukoners who are exploring ways to improve our lives and this year we are looking for ways that innovation can help us recover from this global pandemic and associated economic downturn.”

The grand prize winner will receive $30,000 with an additional six prizes of $6,500 to further develop their ideas. All winners having the opportunity to work with the innovation and entrepreneurship branch at the university after the competition to receive supports to develop their idea.

“Every year the Yukon Innovation Prize showcases the territory’s top innovators and the 2021 edition promises to be no exception,” Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai said. “This year’s theme of recovery during the pandemic puts a new importance on the work of the applicants. I wish them all the best of luck and I look forward to seeing their creative solutions.”

Ziad Sahid, executive director for Tech Yukon, speaks with Julie Nielsen, innovation and entrepreneurship marketing coordinator at Yukon University, about online programming for Yukon Innovation Week at Yukonstruct on Nov. 16. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Any Yukon-based resident, organization or business can make a submission for the Yukon Innovation Prize by Feb. 21, 2021 with applicants asked to come up with solutions that address challenges due to the pandemic.

As noted in the announcement, innovations related to COVID-19 precautions or testing, supply-chain instability, increased costs for construction materials, scheduling uncertainty, decreased tourism, remote working solutions, job market recovery or occupancy to space ratios, are examples of what would be considered relevant to the theme.

Application forms and details are available here.

Winners will be announced in March.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

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