Minister appoints 15-member Innovation Commission to help plan five-year innovation strategy

·2 min read

A new territorial government, new mandate letters, and now a new swirl of consultations and planning processes seem in full swing in the Yukon.

On Aug. 20 came an announcement of the new Innovation Commission. This followed on the heels of news releases for the formation of a Yukon Climate Leadership Council (Aug. 9) and the Yukon Hospital strategy development process (Aug. 10).

Like the Climate Leadership Council, the Innovation Commission is tasked with the development of a strategic planning document. Unlike the climate council, these members did not have to apply, nor will they receive any renumeration for their contributions. And unlike the hospital strategy, a consultant will not be producing the strategy, the Department of Economic Development will do that work.

An Aug. 24 press release states that “the new Innovation Commission has been formed to provide technical and professional input on the development of a five-year innovation strategy to expand opportunities for local entrepreneurs, diversify the economy and create jobs.”

Economic Development’s director of technology and innovation, Candy Poon said the selection of members was drawn from the public engagement process.

“We had a list of stakeholders, and it was through networking and through recommendations that we had long lists of names to choose from.” Poon continued, “The department puts together a recommendation and then we consult with the minister (of economic development) for final selection.”

In regards to the possibility of conflicts arising from members’ businesses and activities, Poon said that “as part of the terms of reference they are required to declare if there is material conflict of interest.” The commission is expected to have a three-month lifespan.

The department released the names of the 15 members of the Innovation Commission with their business affiliations, but said they will not be publishing any additional biographical information at this time.

Innovation is not really an economic sector; it is an activity that extends across many sectors.

In the release, Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai thanks the “commission members for contributing their deep knowledge and experience from across the spectrum of innovation, including the not-for-profit sector, Silicon Valley, investment community and energy sector.”

A “What we Heard Report on Yukon Innovation” was attached to the release. This document and an appendix document demonstrated an extensive consultation that took place over the time of COVID-19.

Lawrie Crawford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Yukon News

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