Archived - Success Story: Making Space for Yukon Entrepreneurial Spirit
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Project Location: Whitehorse, Yukon
Program: Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development
Sectors: Small and Medium Entrepreneurship; Innovation
Entrepreneurs face many challenges when trying to successfully launch a start-up, especially when their business model involves the development of new tools and products. In the North, with limited access to equipment and workspace, these barriers are even more difficult for individual proprietors and small and medium-sized enterprises to overcome.
The YuKonstruct Society, a non-profit organization located in Whitehorse, Yukon, received $167,500 in CanNor funding to develop the YuKonstruct Makerspace: a collaborative, community-operated, multi-user workspace where northern entrepreneurs can gain access to the tools and equipment required for bringing their innovative ideas to life. Makerspace helps to grow local, small-scale, manufacturing businesses while enabling entrepreneurs to produce inexpensive prototypes. The first of its kind in Canada north of 60, the Makerspace provides access to manufacturing equipment such as wood and metal working machines, a laser cutter, and a 3D printer. Makerspace also offers an educational workshop series to train potential innovators how to use the equipment, all at affordable costs. Many of the services offered at the YuKonstruct Makerspace are delivered by volunteers, as the entire concept revolves around collaboration for the benefit of the community instead of individual profit.
The YuKonstruct Society vision statement is "To empower Yukoners to bring their ideas to life, ignite their entrepreneurial spirit, and grow Yukon innovation and business." Reflecting this mission, in the first year of the project the Makerspace gained a membership of 82 individuals and fourteen businesses. More impressively, 20 different products were in development and eight businesses were either created or expanded. During the second year of the project, the YuKonstruct Society successfully launched a secondary co-working office space to support even more Yukon small business owners and entrepreneurs. Yukonstruct Makerspace is supported through the Yukon Research Centre's Cold Climate Innovation project, which CanNor also supports.
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