A Report on the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Nova Scotia

Dr. Kevin McKague recognizes that Nova Scotia is experiencing the economic challenges of a global pandemic. As Cape Breton University’s Canada Research Chair in Social Enterprise and Inclusive Markets and Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy, Dr. McKague has been attentive to the changes in the economy over the past year. With more than 29 thousand small businesses in Nova Scotia, many entrepreneurs have faced uncertainty and even hardship.

The good news, he says, is that based on his research that preceded the pandemic, Nova Scotia’s climate for small business is grounded in some key strengths that will contribute to economic resilience and recovery in the province.

Dr. McKague released the Report “Nova Scotia’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” earlier this year, based on methodology developed by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the largest study of entrepreneurship in the world. Together with colleagues Leslie Wardley, a University Research Chair at Cape Breton University, and Chad Saunders, a Newfoundlander and professor and researcher at the University of Calgary, research was conducted in 2019, with input from 426 entrepreneurs and owner-managers in the province, examining the climate for entrepreneurial development in Nova Scotia.

“The business community has described three key strengths that are fostering entrepreneurship in Nova Scotia: networking, culture and talent. These are pillars for future sustainability and growth in the small business sector,” says Dr. McKague.

The strongest component of the networking pillar indicates that individuals involved in emerging and established entrepreneurial activity were well known to each other. The strength in the Nova Scotia business culture shows support and respect for those engaging in entrepreneurial pursuits.

“The data points to a vibrant community of entrepreneurs helping each other and providing mentorship and support within their communities,” says Dr. McKague.

Carla Arsenault, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Cape Breton Partnership, attended the recent launch of the GEM report. The Partnership, Cape Breton-Unama’ki’s private sector-led economic development organization, supports the business community by promoting the island as a great place to live, work, study, and invest. In the spirit of economic recovery and prosperity, the Partnership supports a culture valuing and celebrating creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, while connecting entrepreneurs and companies to the resources they need to succeed. Arsenault says they will conduct a detailed review of the content of this report.

“It’s especially validating to see the networking pillar as such a strength here in Nova Scotia. The Cape Breton Partnership will continue to foster meaningful networking opportunities to build on this strength,” says Arsenault. “This report has come at a time when we need to be reminded that our collaborative nature as a business community will be key to our resilience during challenging times.”

Rounding out the top-three strengths in Nova Scotia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is talent. While the results indicate that there is a fast replenishing pool of talent in the area, talent retention in the province remains challenging.

The report was supported in part by the ACOA Atlantic Policy Research Initiative, which provides a vehicle for the analysis of key socio-economic policy issues in Atlantic Canada. Nova Scotia’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Report is available here.