Innovation Saskatchewan is responsible for implementing the province’s innovation priorities and helping grow Saskatchewan’s tech sector. Effective April 2022, this includes operation of the Innovation Place technology parks in Saskatoon and Regina.

PrairiesCan Invests Big In Innovation In The Prairies

On August 5, 2021, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages announced the official launch of a new regional development agency for the Prairie provinces: Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan).

PrairiesCan will serve Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba with a $149-million core funding budget and additional funds available through a variety of federal funding programs like the $250 million Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative and the $700 million Jobs and Growth Fund.

PrairiesCan is one of two new regional development agencies launched that will replace Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), which was created in 1987. PrairiesCan and its new British Columbia equivalent Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan) represent a new targeted approach by the federal government that adjusts and corrects for the disparity of resources previously allocated to the west.

“The west is not a monolithic block,” said Minister Joly, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, at the press conference. “We want to be present according to the different realities in each [Prairie] province — in rural and big cities to Indigneous communities.” PrairesCan will increase its network of people within Prairies cities, maintaining current WD headquarters and offices in Edmonton, Saskatoon and Winnipeg and add additional offices in Alberta in Lethbridge, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and an expanded office in Calgary; in Saskatchewan in Regina and Prince Albert; and in Manitoba in Brandon and Thompson.

The increased funding and presence in the Prairies will allow PrairiesCan to achieve its mandate to help entrepreneurs grow businesses through access to capital, information and resources and create more jobs and opportunities in the Prairies.

"Western Canada's economy is growing and diversifying more each day, requiring a tailored approach that considers its needs and seizes its opportunities. Our government is proud to be investing in the economic future of innovators, businesses, and communities across the Prairies with the creation of PrairiesCan. For more than 30 years, WD has done tremendous work in the West and this is the beginning of an exciting new chapter," said Minister Joly.

The event was hosted by Co.Labs, Saskatchewan’s first technology incubator and tenant at Innovation Place in Saskatoon.

For more information on PrairesCan, read this interview with Minister Joly and the press release.

- August 6, 2021