Yukon makerspace gets multi-million dollar 'innovation hub'

The governments of Canada and Yukon are contributing the money to help YuKonstruct convert a long-vacant building into the Yukon Innovation Hub.

Facility will 'bring together the brightest and most creative minds of the Yukon'

Yukon's Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai and Jaret Slipp of Yukonstruct inspect the plans for the Yukon Innovation Hub, expected to open this summer. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Whitehorse's "makerspace" will soon have a new, bigger home — a new "innovation hub" in the city's downtown.

The government of Yukon has budgeted up to $1.9 million for the project, while the Canadian government is contributing a further $1.5 million, to help YuKonstruct  convert a long-vacant building into the Yukon Innovation Hub. It will be located in the former Super Valu grocery store on Second Avenue.

Northern Vision Development, the company that owns the building, is also chipping in $1.3 million over several years. 

Jaret Slipp, executive director of YuKonstruct, says innovation thrives when people can easily collaborate. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

"We've outgrown our spaces," said Jaret Slipp, referring to both YuKonstruct and (co)space. Slipp is the executive director of YuKonstruct.

The new 20,000-square foot space will also house the Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon College's Cold Climate Innovation Centre.

According to Yukon Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai, it's about a creating a place to foster new ideas and entrepreneurship.

"This is the time to do it," Pillai said. "We have a phenomenal boom right now in the commodities market, and that is the time to continue to focus on how we will diversify."

Pillai said that the new facility will also signal to outside inventors and investors that Yukon supports people with good ideas.

"Time spent by our entrepreneurs searching out support and knocking on doors is time not spent developing their ideas and building their businesses," he said.

Slipp agreed, saying that innovation thrives when people can easily collaborate and support each other.

"Ultimately, this place will bring together the brightest and most creative minds of the Yukon, and show the world that a small remote community can be a global leader," he said.

The new facility is expected to open this summer.    

The 20,000-square foot space will also house the Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon College's Cold Climate Innovation Centre. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

With files from Max Leighton