Celebrating Connections: A Recap of Yukon Innovation Week 2023

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What an amazing journey we’ve had during Yukon Innovation Week! Now, as we collectively pause to reflect on the surge of innovation and connections forged throughout this extraordinary week, it’s clear that the impact goes far beyond our initial expectations. Under the theme ‘Connecting Innovators,’ we immersed ourselves in a dynamic celebration that transcended the boundaries of creativity and collaboration. From informational networking sessions among local visionaries to the shared moments of inspiration, this year’s theme ignited a spark that lit up the entire week with energy and transformative ideas.

Our week began with the Funders Reverse Pitch on November 6th. This insightful event provided entrepreneurs with information about resources available from the perspective of funders, paving the way for innovative endeavors. Digital Main Street illuminated the accelerated path of digital transformation and e-commerce, opening an opportunity on the transformative journey small businesses can explore to thrive in the digital world. YukonU I&E treated us to more than just a free lunch at the Kinnickinnick Kaff – it offered a feast of ideas as faculty and researchers shared stories on improving the power of innovative thinking in Research, Mining Remediation, and Northern Energy Innovation.

We were privileged to learn about the impactful initiatives led by Oona Krieg from Brave Coop, aimed at reducing overdose fatalities and building social connections through innovative technological solutions. This pioneering project has not only successfully identified but also saved 215 individuals from overdoses. Presently, there are 958 active devices in operation, and we are optimistic about expanding this life-saving technology to benefit more people in the future.

Yukonstruct extends its gratitude to Nadia from Panache Ventures for leading an enlightening Pitching Basics Workshop. Additionally, our knowledge deepened about the SR&ED Program, a valuable initiative supporting research and development endeavors across all sizes and sectors of Canadian businesses. Yukon Venture Angels highlighted the important role of Yukon’s private sector as the foundation for building a resilient, innovative, and prosperous community.

In the middle of these discussions, we had the opportunity to transfer into the realm of Virtual Reality, experiencing the surreal sensation of walking on an ordinary plank of pine while our minds convinced us we were over 80 stories high!

Wednesday was an enriching day! It started with insightful conversations discussing the role of startup ecosystems, the dynamics of angel investment, and the impact of venture capital. Transitioning to the YukonU I&E Classroom, we were invited to a compelling presentation on the collaborative offerings of Mitacs, shedding light on how they contribute to the growth and development of local businesses.

The day continued with a deep dive into open structured data and dynamic open data, presented by Paul Kishchuk and Tech Yukon. We then had the privilege of tackling personal and professional narratives, exploring stories of setbacks, experienced failures, and the transformative power they have in connecting with others, fostering leadership growth, and inspiring communities. Before we wrapped up for the day, a group gathered together to brainstorm what to design in celebration of all things “makery” at the first-ever Maker Faire North of 60, set to run in spring 2024.

Thursday began with a presentation by Mark Kelly, where we uncovered the transformative impact of professional photography on business. We explored the art of visual storytelling and gained valuable insights into how photographers like Mark play a role in maintaining a brand’s consistency, recognition, and credibility. The session demonstrated that collaborating with a professional goes beyond capturing images; it’s about crafting lasting visual impressions that deeply engage our audience, building trust and connection.

Rachel Burns and Angie Schick from AccelerateIP discussed how their new program can help the audience understand the complex topic of Intellectual Property. AccelerateIP helps to protect, manage, and leverage our ideas and intellectual assets through education, skills development, and financial support. Chang Han, IP Executive in Residence for AccelerateIP, provided an overview of why IP matters and how it can be applied to startups. Following the seminar, the team stayed at Northlight to chat with attendees and answer questions about IP and the program!

We had an opportunity to host a Community Meet and Greet with Connected North at Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre on Thursday afternoon. Connected North brings live Zoom sessions directly to students all across Canada. We’re happy to celebrate the success of Connected North and the STEAM programs that have been engaging students in all Yukon schools!

Thursday evening unfolded at the recently-renovated Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, where the Hall of Innovators Awards Gala 2023 took center stage. We had the privilege of celebrating five outstanding award recipients, each accompanied by inspiring stories and groundbreaking innovations that have left an indelible mark on Yukon’s ever-evolving landscape. Read more about them here!

Adding a dynamic layer to the night’s festivities, The Heart of Riverdale breakdancers dazzled us with an exceptional performance, turning our evening into a vibrant exhibition of talent. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to them for elevating the event to extraordinary heights.

Special appreciation is extended to Ali Cat Catering for the delectable treats. A sincere thank you to the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre for seamlessly blending history with innovation, transporting us into a world where the past and present converge, creating a truly memorable evening.

Last but certainly not least, we extend our thanks to Yukon Brewing for generously sponsoring our bar, treating us to the delightful taste of Yukon Brewing beers, and completing the sensory experience of a night filled with celebration, innovation, and history.

We concluded Yukon Innovation Week on Friday with two engaging events: a panel called “Public Policy for Innovation” and a thrilling VR experience titled “Defuse a Bomb.”

The discussions delved into the practical framework guiding governments in navigating real-world challenges and exploring opportunities. Special thanks to Janet Moodie (former Deputy Minister and Cabinet Secretary) and Pamela Muir (former Public Service Commissioner and Chief Legislative Counsel) for their invaluable insights. Kudos to John Glynn-Morris for skillfully moderating the conversation with an engaged group.

In the VR experience, participants immersed themselves in the intense game of “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes,” where they had to defuse a bomb without any instructions. Fortunately, our real-world allies had a printed bomb defusal manual, and through chaotic teamwork, we successfully avoided explosions (though, admittedly, there were a few close calls and lots of explosions).

We would like to express gratitude to our generous funders and supporters: CanNor, Yukon Government’s Department of Economic Development, Yukon Brewing, and our partners: Tech Yukon, Tourism Industry Association Yukon, and Yukon University’s Department of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

A huge thank you to all of our community partners who contributed to this year’s Yukon Innovation Week. We appreciate your contribution and connection!