Electronic Products & Technology

Canadian space sector grows by 2% to $5.38B in 2014

March 15, 2017  By Marc Boucher, founder of SpaceRef Canada Interactive Inc.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has and it shows total revenues of $5.38 billion as compared with $3.49 billion in revenues in 2013.

While this may seem like a significant increase, it is in fact a 2% year over year growth rate. The reason for the significant jump in revenue is a new methodology used by the CSA which added new downstream segment organizations and their revenues to the survey.

Ten-year trend. Credit: CSA.

One significant note on the data, Earth Observation (EO) saw a 39% growth in revenue from 2013 to 2014. The EO trend in growth and revenue should continue.

The report and data needs to be prefaced by how the Upstream and Downstream segments are defined.

The CSA defines Upstream segment as “the effort required to design, test, build, integrate, and launch assets into space”. Since Canada does not launch assets into space the CSA has not included this area as a separate value-chain category in the report.

The CSA defines the Downstream segment as “the effort required for the day-to-day operation of space assets, manufacturing of products and software applications that transform space data and signals into useful end products, and services provided to end-users.”

The report is based on data from 2004-2014 and includes data from 144 organizations.

Credit: CSA.

The “report uses a new methodology developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Space Forum, of which the CSA is a participating member, to characterize Canadian space activities on the basis of a value-chain approach. The definitions of space sector categories have been updated, and report findings are presented on the basis of upstream and downstream segment activities. This re-categorization is intended to improve the measurement of the space sector and enable international comparisons.”


Credit: CSA.

In the President’s message Sylvain Laporte said “The 2014 survey results indicate that the space sector has achieved revenues of $5.4B and a workforce of over 10,000. Upstream segment activities related to research, engineering and manufacturing account for $1B. Downstream segment operations, products and services account for $4.4B, with Satellite Communication dominating the downstream segment. Domestic, and particularly commercial, sales emerged as the most important area for growth in 2014. At the same time, export markets experienced some contraction. Overall, the space sector contributed $2.9B to gross domestic product (GDP) and helped maintain 25,000 jobs (direct, indirect and induced) in the wider Canadian economy.”

The Numbers

  • The addition of broadcasting companies as part of the methodology change has vastly increased Quebec’s reported share of Canadian space revenues.
  • Domestic revenues were $3.8B.
    • Domestic revenues accounted for 71% of total revenues. This a 18% increase over 2013 and is a result of the new methodology.
    • Broadcasting Services revenue were $2.67B.
  • Export revenues were $1.6B.
    • Export revenues were down by 5%, or $82 million, totalling $1.6 billion.
  • In terms of sectors of activity, space sector revenue growth in 2014 was driven by Satellite Communication ($4.5B) and Earth Observation ($516M).
    • Earth Observation revenues increased by 39%, or $146M, from 2013 to 2014.
    • Ignoring the methodological changes, Satellite Communication revenues grew by 39%, or $744M, at an average annual growth rate of 6.7% over the last five years (2009–2014).
  • Not surprisingly non-governmental sources accounted for 88% of domestic revenues.
  • The breakdown of domestic government revenue is; <1% Municipal, <1% Provincial, 2% Defence and 10% Federal Civil.
  • Non-government customers make up 90%, or $1.4B, of export revenues.
  • 91% of Canadian space companies are small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s), 57% of which are upstream segment companies and 43% are downstream segment companies.

    Market Share by Sector of Activity. Credit: CSA.

  • In 2014, the space sector contributed $2.8B to Canada’s GDP and supported a total of 24,579 jobs in Canada’s greater economy.
    • 10,012 Direct Jobs (space sector jobs); 7,718 Indirect Jobs (supplier industry jobs); and 6,849 Induced Jobs (jobs created and supported as a result of wages re-spent in the economy by workforce involved in Direct and Indirect activities).
  • Research and development (R&D) expenditures totalled $146M in 2014, with 52 organizations undertaking space R&D projects.
  • University and research centre revenues amounted to $94M in 2014, representing 1.7% of total revenue, with four universities making it into Canada’s top 30 space organizations.


About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceRef Canada Interactive Inc, CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef U.S., advisor and co-founder of the Canadian Space Commerce Association, and director and co-founder of MaxQ Accelerator Inc. Previously he was the founder of Maple Square, Canada’s first internet directory and search engine which he sold. 

Marc Boucher


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1 Comment » for Canadian space sector grows by 2% to $5.38B in 2014
  1. While Canada might be enthused over this growth rate, the fact is that the international space industry is growing at a substantially higher rate.

    As outlined the March 13, 2017 Commercial Space blog post, “The State of the CDN Space Sector, Our “Innovation Agenda,” UrtheCast, exactEarth, More Government & Orbcomm, Which is #1!” the 2% year over year growth rate for the Canadian space industry as referenced in Mr. Bouchers article is substantially lower than the 9% year over year worldwide growth rate reported in the “2015 Space Report; The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity,” the annual publication of the Colorado based Space Foundation, which also covers 2014.

    Even our Canadian reporting is slow. The Canadian Space Agency document referenced in Mr. Boucher’s article was released in February 2017 while the Space Foundation report was first released in July, 2015.

    Lets wish the CSA better luck next year. They’re gonna need it.

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