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

March 29, 2023

Following an increase of 13.9% in 2019, the number of personnel engaged in Research and Development (R&D) decreased 2.4% to 4,090 full-time equivalents (FTEs) in 2020 in Nova Scotia.

Nationally, R&D personnel increased for a fourth consecutive year. Canada R&D personnel increased 4.6% to 276,640 FTEs with large increase in Ontario and British Columbia offsetting declines in six provinces.

Looking at the spread of R&D personnel across Canada, Ontario had the highest proportion at 45.4% followed by Quebec and British Columbia. Nova Scotia accounted for 1.5% of national R&D personnel in 2020.


Higher education sector continued to be the largest employer of R&D personnel in Nova Scotia accounting for 48.4% of all FTEs in 2020. Compared to 2019, the number of R&D personnel in higher education increased 2.6% to 1,980 FTEs. The increase was driven by a 3.0% gain in the number of researchers to 1,370 and no change in technician/support staff of 600.

The business sector was the second largest employer of Nova Scotia’s R&D personnel in 2020. The number of R&D personnel in the business sector decreased 7.7% year-over-year to 1,670 FTEs in 2020. There were fewer researchers, technical/support staff, and on-site research consultants in the businesses sector in 2020.

The federal sector R&D personnel decreased 2.3% year-over-year to 430 FTEs in Nova Scotia in 2020 and accounted for 10.5% of all research and development FTEs.

Nationally, the business enterprise sector continued to be the largest employer of R&D personnel in 2020, accounting for 64.6% of all FTEs in 2020. The higher education sector was the second-largest employer of R&D personnel representing 29.0% of all FTEs.


*There was a small portion of provincial personnel from 2002 to 2004, not shown in the chart

Looking at occupational categories, researchers continued to be Nova Scotia’s largest R&D personnel category in 2020. The number of researchers in Nova Scotia decreased 0.4% year-over-year to 2,720 FTEs in 2020, accounting for 66.5% of all research and development FTEs.

Technicians and support staff was the second largest R&D occupation in Nova Scotia in 2020. When compared to 2019, the number of technicians and support staff declined 2.9% to 1,320 FTEs in 2020.

On-site research consultants accounted for 1.2% of Nova Scotia’s total R&D personnel in 2020 with 50 FTEs. The number of on-site research consultants was not available for the 2000 – 2013 period.



Source: Statistics Canada. Table 27-10-0023-01  Personnel engaged in research and development, by geography

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