While overall showing resilience, in 2020, the Canadian space sector faced challenges as COVID-19 negatively influenced the normal functions of organizations. The challenges continued in 2021, and were exacerbated by supply chain issues in the global economy. The overall impacts on the Canadian space sector varied, including declines in some areas, and growth in others.
In 2020, total revenues in the Canadian space sector declined to $4.9B (down 11%), and remained at this level in 2021. Domestic revenues decreased by 6% in 2020, and then rebounded by 4% in 2021 to a total of $3.1B. Export revenues were severely impacted in 2020, decreasing by 18%, and continued to decline in 2021, decreasing by another 3%, to a total of $1.8B.
The average annual growth rate of the space sector between 2017 and 2021 was negative 3.29%. The space sector is estimated to have contributed $2.7B to Canada’s GDP in 2020, increasing to $2.8B in 2021, and supported a total of 22,846 (2020) and 24,190 (2021) full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in the greater Canadian economy (including space sector jobs, supply industry jobs and jobs created as a result of consumer spending).
In the sectors of activity, Satellite Communication has been impacted most significantly over the past two years, with revenues declining by 12% in 2020, and a subsequent 3% decline in 2021, settling at just $3.9B (from $4.6B in 2019). Space Exploration has seen robust growth, accelerating by 11% in 2020, and an additional 24% in 2021. The remaining sectors of activity saw slight increases from 2019 to 2021, but Space Science saw slight declines.
The space sector workforce added government employees at the CSA for this edition, and data have been backdated to accurately reflect sector trends. The space sector workforce declined by 3% in 2020 to total 10,868 space-related FTEs. Subsequently, in 2021, the total number of space related FTEs grew by 7% to reach a new high of 11,629. Information relating to gender has been relatively constant, with 29% of people in the Canadian space sector identifying as female, and 71% identifying as male.
The percentage of the total space workforce representing STEM and HQP has not shifted significantly over the past two years. In 2021, 62% of the total workforce were STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related employees, and 67% were highly qualified personnel (HQP).’ Similarly, academic organizations have not seen a large shift in workforce, contributing 19% of the total space sector workforce in 2021 with 2,240 FTEs, of whom 87% were HQP and 96% were STEM (similar to 2019).
Business expenditures on R&D (BERD) saw significant growth over the past two years, increasing to $479M in 2020, and $547M in 2021, an increase of 46%. The return on investment (ROI) revealed that for CSA space development programs, for every dollar invested, 2.21 dollars are returned through follow-on revenues – a multiplier of 2.21 times. Space sector organizations reported a total of 226 new inventions and 76 new patents registered in 2021, similar to previous years.
In 2021, the top 30 Canadian space organizations (including four universities) generated 95% of total space revenues and represented 69% of space employment. They also accounted for 81% of BERD, 31% of registered patents, and 41% of inventions.
SMEs accounted for 93% of all Canadian space companies in 2021. Together, SMEs accounted for 42% of Canadian space sector revenues and 30% of all employees.