The Denendeh Development Corporation (DDC) has entered into a partnership with a national, non-profit organization called Mitacs to try to identify and fill gaps in the Northern economy.

The two non-government organizations issued a joint news release on Nov. 29 stating that they are working together to connect small communities with academic researchers and industry.

Darrell Beaulieu, chief executive officer with the Denendeh Group of Companies, which represents 27 Dene First Nations communities, said in an interview that the two NGOs are aiming to ensure that the private sector can be improved by hiring a person to visit NWT communities to hear their economic problems and then work with universities or other post-secondary places of learning in Canada to find solutions.

“When you are looking at the north and especially the NWT – but probably also the Yukon – in terms of developing our economies, the most important thing is developing its people,” he explained.

“So we wanted to partner with Mitacs and cooperatively work with them on getting a business development person up here.”

The business development director, to be co-mandated between DDC and Mitacs, is being recruited now and will hopefully be filled in the new year.

Jesse Vincent-Herscovici, vice-president of business development with Mitacs said some of the finer details of the job requirements won’t be fully known until the business development person is hired.

When that happens, DDC and Mitacs will be able to lay out a plan for coordinating with communities and planning more specifically their approach.

Vincent-Herscovici added, however, that his organization has well established routines of bridging remote community economic needs with what is available among education institutions and researchers.

Partnering with DDC is an important step in that work because the corporation knows the North.

“They already have a very strong pulse of what’s going on in the Northwest Territories and very well established relationships,” he said. “We don’t want to arrive and reinvent the wheel. We know that there’s well established and well understood needs. So our role is to bring our matchmaking platform to an existing set of networks and then understand what it is that different local players are trying to do. ”

Monique Rodrigues, a senior communications specialist with Mitacs explained that her organization is funded by the federal governments as well as some provinces and has been working for 20 years to try to connect industry and non-profit organizations with post-secondary students in order to foster business innovation.

All universities are members of the organization so there are academic networks Mitacs has that can help Denendeh improve access to innovation on behalf of NWT communities where it is most needed.

“Basically we create internship opportunities for post-secondary students,” Rodrigues said.

“So if a student in a masters degree program is interested in doing some work or an internship with a company, we help make those connections and make that internship happen.”

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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