Goal 4

New Business Startups - Deep Dive

Goal Status

donut shaped icon to signify the status of not progressing Not Progressing Not On Track
Current: 230
Baseline: 310
Target: 465

In Canada, high-growth enterprises play an important role in employment, accounting for a large share of job creation.

In Statistics Canada’s Entrepreneurship Indicators Database, a high-growth enterprise is defined as an enterprise that exhibits average annualized growth of greater than 20 per cent per year over a three-year period (72.8 per cent growth over three years), and has at least 10 employees at the start of the three-year period. This can be measured as growth in revenues or employment. The headline indicator for this goal uses the revenue measure. 

Measured by revenue growth, the largest number of high-growth firms in Nova Scotia in 2020 were in construction, manufacturing, retail trade, and professional, scientific and technical services. Compared to the previous period ending in 2019, there were fewer high-growth firms in construction and wholesale trade, and more in manufacturing, retail trade, and other services. Several sectors have suppressed data for 2020. Overall, there was a decrease in the number of high-growth enterprises when measured by revenue and remained same in the share of high-growth firms among total enterprises at 4.7% in 2020. The Canadian average declined from 6.2% to 5.5% in the same period.

When measured by employment growth, Nova Scotia had 130 high-growth enterprises for the 2017-2020 period, which accounted for 2.7% of all enterprises with at least 10 employees in 2020. This remains slightly above the Canadian average of 2.6 percent.

High growth enterprises by employment and revenue, Nova Scotia, 2020

  Number of enterprises Share of total enterprises Canadian Average
High growth by employment 130 2.7% 2.6% 
High growth by revenue 230 4.7% 5.5%

The table below shows the number of high-growth enterprises by industry in Nova Scotia for the 2017-2020 period, rounded to the nearest 10 to maintain confidentiality. An ‘X’ indicates a number too small to report.

High growth (HG) enterprises, measured by employment and revenue, Nova Scotia, 2020

  HG by employment HG by revenue
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting 10 X
Mining and Oil and Gas extraction 0 X
Utilities  0 0
Construction  10 30
Manufacturing 10 30
Wholesale Trade 10 10
Retail Trade 20 30
Transportation and Warehousing X X
Information and Cultural Industries  10 10
Finance and Insurance X X
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing X 10
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services  20 30
Management of Companies and Enterprises X 0
Administrative and Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services 10 20
Educational Services  X 10
Healthcare and Social Assistance  10 20
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation X X
Accommodation and Food Service  10 20
Other Services (not including Public Administration) 10 20
Primary Industries Subtotal 10 X
Subtotal Excluding Primary Industries  120 X
Total 130 230


  • In The (Ivany) Report of the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy, Goal 4 was to increase the number of business start-ups in the province by 50%. However, the number of newly registered businesses in a year has been on a downward trend nationally and provincially for an extended period. This suggests drivers unrelated to economic activity are at play, and that this indicator was not measuring what the goal intended. Thus, this goal has been updated with a new indicator – the number of high-growth firms in the province. This indicator is thought to better represent the “start-up culture” this goal was intended to measure.
  • For the new indicator, the original goal -- to increase the number of these firms by 50% -- was maintained. With the baseline number of 310, the new target is 465.