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: 240
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 2015-2016 were in construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, and accommodation and food services. Compared to the previous period, there were losses in retail trade, professional, scientific and technical services, administrative, waste management and remediation, health care and social assistance, and accommodation and food services, which were partially offset by gains in manufacturing. This amounted to net-loss of high-growth enterprises when measured by revenue, reducing the share of total enterprises from 6.2 per cent in 2015 to 4.9 per cent in 2016. The Canadian average fell from 7.3 per cent in 2015 to 5.6 per cent in the same period.

When measured by employment growth, Nova Scotia had 130 high-growth enterprises for the 2013-2016 period, which accounted for 2.7 per cent of all enterprises with at least 10 employees in 2013. This is unchanged compared to the 2012-2015 period but remains below the Canadian average of 3.1 percent.

High growth enterprises by employment and revenue, Nova Scotia, 2016

  Number of enterprises Share of total enterprises Canadian average
High growth by employment 130 2.7% 3.1% 
High growth by revenue 240 4.9% 5.6%

The table below shows the number of high-growth enterprises by industry in Nova Scotia for the 2013-2016 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, 2016

  HG by employment HG by revenue
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting X 10
Mining and Oil and Gas extraction X 0
Utilities  0 0
Construction  20 30
Manufacturing 10 30 
Wholesale Trade 10 30
Retail Trade 20 30
Transportation and Warehousing X X
Information and Cultural Industries  X X
Finance and Insurance X X
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing X X
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services  10 20
Management of Companies and Enterprises X X
Administrative and Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services X 10
Educational Services  X 10
Healthcare and Social Assistance  10 10
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation X X
Accommodation and Food Service  10 30
Other Services (not including Public Administration) 10 10
Primary Industries Subtotal X 10
Subtotal Excluding Primary Industries  X 230
Total 130 240


  • 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.