Government of Nova Scotia, Canada

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Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

December 09, 2022

Nova Scotia’s higher education research and development (R&D) spending declined by 4.9%, falling from $458.4 million in 2019/2020 to $436.1 million in 2020/2021.  Nationally, higher education sector spending on R&D totalled $15.9 billion in 2020/2021, up 0.5% from the previous year. Across Canada, 5 of 10 provinces reported increases in higher education R&D spending, led by Saskatchewan and Ontario.  Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia reported the largest declines. 

On average, R&D spending in Nova Scotia’s higher education sector has been increasing by 4.0% annually since 2000.  This is slower than the national long run pace of growth in higher education R&D spending.  Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia reported the fastest long-run growth in higher education R&D spending while Saskatchewan reported the slowest.

On a per capita basis, Nova Scotia’s higher education sector has the third largest R&D spending in the country at $444.2 per capita, behind Newfoundland and Labrador ($683.8 per capita) and Quebec ($475.5 per capita). Nationally, higher education sector spending on R&D averaged to $418.0 per capita in 2020/2021.

Looking at the higher education sector R&D spending as a percentage of GDP, Nova Scotia had the second largest across Canada at 0.93% of (2020) GDP in 2020/2021. This was behind Newfoundland and Labrador (1.11%) and was higher compared to the national average of 0.72%. 

Higher education R&D spending has been on an upward trend in Nova Scotia since 2000/2001, growing from under 0.8% of GDP in 2000/2001 to over 1.0% from 2012 to 2016.   Since then, nominal GDP has growth faster than higher education R&D spending in most years, resulting in some decline in R&D as a share of GDP. 

Since 2002, Canada's higher education R&D spending has fluctuated in a narrow range from 0.62% to 0.72% of GDP.

Note: 'CAGR' = Compound annual growth rate

Source: Statistics Canada, Table  27-10-0025-01   Provincial estimates of research and development expenditures in the higher education sector, by funding sector and type of science (x 1,000,000)

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