Minister Vandal announces a nearly $4.5M investment in Yukon innovation and entrepreneurship


Funding for the linked efforts of Yukon University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Yukonstruct Society supports resilience and growth

A key part of Canada’s economic recovery is supporting businesses as they adapt, grow, and move forward from the pandemic. Businesses and entrepreneurs need a strong foundation, built on technological innovation and clean growth to create the workforce of the future.

Across the territories, Northern and Indigenous partners are building a path forward through creativity, collaboration and determination. In the Yukon, this is demonstrated by the united efforts of the Yukon’s innovation community, which has worked closely together to adapt and grow through challenging times.

CanNor invests in innovation ecosystem across the Yukon

Today, the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister for PrairiesCan and Minister for CanNor, and Dr. Brendan Hanley, Member of Parliament for Yukon, announced that the Government of Canada is investing nearly $4.5 million through the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program to support the Yukon innovation ecosystem as it continues to adapt, grow and build beyond the pandemic.

This funding, delivered by CanNor, supports two five-year projects located under one roof in Whitehorse but with impacts that span the territory.

Managed by Yukonstruct Society, NorthLight Innovation is the first innovation hub North of 60. The facility brings Yukonstruct members and services together with hub partners. CanNor is investing $2,123,248 towards NorthLight Innovation with a further investment of $743,250 from the Government of Yukon for the first three years as well as $5,255,040 from the proponent. The total cost of the project is $8,121,538.

A key hub partner, Yukon University uses NorthLight Innovation to house the Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E). The I&E fosters business growth and innovation to support early-stage entrepreneurs, start-ups and innovative companies with high-growth potential. CanNor is investing $2,341,818 towards the I&E with a further commitment of $2,505,000 from the Government of Yukon for the first three years and $560,000 from the proponent. The total cost of the project is $5,406,818.

During the first year, funding provided relief and support to innovators and entrepreneurs and tools needed for fast development of products such as personal protective equipment. I&E and the broader NorthLight facility were able to pivot programs and services online and offer flexible support for start-ups, businesses and innovators based on emerging needs. Funding will allow these facilities to offer stable, responsive support to the Yukon’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Small- and medium-sized businesses, innovators and early-stage start-ups and the organizations that support them represent the backbone of regional economies. They generate quality local jobs and are a source of pride for their communities. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the sustainable growth of economic sectors with a focus on strengthened entrepreneurship and Northern innovation.


“We continue to see the talent, drive, and innovation among Yukon’s entrepreneurs. Through the pandemic, many businesses shifted quickly to adapt to changing needs and fulfilling demand for many new items including PPE. NorthLight Innovation continues to be a driving force behind Yukon innovators. This facility is a hub of energy, creativity and collaboration, bringing innovators, entrepreneurs, business advisory and support services as well as Yukon University together under one roof. The investments announced today demonstrate our government’s ongoing commitment to supporting the territory’s innovation sector as it continues to strengthen and grow. The continued growth of this community benefits the entire territory and demonstrates the value of strong partnerships and networks.”

-    The Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister for PrairiesCan and Minister for CanNor

“Yukoners are full of big, bold ideas that are as diverse and inspiring as the land itself. That is why NorthLight Innovation in Whitehorse is so valuable: because it creates a space for the innovation and entrepreneurship community and all the organizations that support them. With guidance from I&E and NorthLight Innovation more broadly, this community has continued to grow despite challenges caused by the pandemic.”

-    Dr. Brendan Hanley, Member of Parliament for Yukon

“NorthLight Innovation is a thriving hub and a cornerstone of the Yukon’s growing innovation sector. The gathering space provides an opportunity for local creatives, entrepreneurs and innovators to share their knowledge and access valuable supports and resources. Alongside NorthLight, Yukon University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship programs have helped many entrepreneurs bring their innovative solutions to market. I look forward to seeing more exciting developments from the Yukon’s innovation community with this new investment in these services.”

-    The Honourable Ranj Pillai, Yukon Minister of Economic Development

“The team at Innovation and Entrepreneurship is as nimble and dynamic as the innovators and entrepreneurs they support in bringing exciting new business ideas to fruition. This secure, stable funding from the Governments of Canada and Yukon ensures I+E is there when small business-owners, start-ups and innovators need expert guidance, just as they did during the past two years of uncertainty during the pandemic. This is an investment in the bold, brilliant and daring creativity of the North and the eco-system in which it thrives.”

-    Dr. Lesley Brown, Yukon University President and Vice-Chancellor

“Yukonstruct Society is dedicated to supporting Yukoner’s to bring their ideas and passions to life, and our organization is so proud to now manage NorthLight Innovation. This multi-tenant facility is overflowing with Yukon innovators, creatives, and entrepreneurs. Our team works hard every day to not only run this beautiful space, but to also offer valuable workshops, skills trainings, and Startup Bootcamps that give Yukoners the networks, skills, and mentorship they need to launch new ventures, and create new jobs, opportunities, and vibrancy for our territory. We are so grateful to partner with CanNor, the Government of Yukon and YukonU to ensure that anyone in the Yukon who wants to start and grow a successful venture has exactly what they need to do so.”

-    Lana Selbee, Yukonstruct Society Executive Director

Quick facts

  • Projects include Yukonstruct Society Innovation Hub Funding and Innovation and Entrepreneurship Funding.

  • CanNor funding for both projects began in 2020 and will continue until 2025.

  • In October 2018, CanNor announced over $900,000 towards the completion of the NorthLight Innovation building. This funding built on CanNor’s previous investment of $1.5M towards the first phase of NorthLight Innovation in 2017-18.

  • Regional economic growth through innovation (REGI) is a funding program delivered by Canada's Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to support the economic growth of businesses and regions through innovation.

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Photo (left to right): The Honourable Daniel Vandal, Lana Selbee, the Honourable Jeanie McLean, Dr. Lesley Brown, and Dr. Brendan Hanley

Kyle Allen
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister Responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, and Minister Responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
819 953 1153

Laura Seeley
Communications Advisor, Yukon