Characteristics of Growth Firms

Detailed information for 1998 to 2003





Record number:


Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division is engaged in a joint project with the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) to investigate the characteristics of growth firms.

Data release - June 20, 2005 (Innovation analysis bulletin, June 2005, vol. 7 no.2)


This survey is a joint project of Statistics Canada and the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). The survey was developed out of a need to better understand how and why certain businesses grow.

Business growth is largely done on specific industries or with a limited set of factors. While building on this, this survey takes advantage of the specific data strengths of Statistics Canada's Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division to provide a unique assessment of a broad range of growth factors as they relate to Canadian firms.

Interviews were conducted to complement existing statistical analysis and to explore additional growth factors of firms that grow from small to medium size. While certain growth factors could be assessed with existing data, open interviews were more appropriate to get a better understanding of a firm's growth. We were able to explore factors such as:
- Research and development,
- Business alliances,
- Competence in funding,
- Intellectual property protection,
- Market niche,
- Business advice,
- Formal organization and planning,
- Innovation,
- Adaptability and
- Other factors leading to growth.

The interview frame was constructed from analysis of data from two Statistics Canada databases:

- the Research and Development in Canadian Industry survey and
- the Longitudinal Employment Analysis Program--Small Area File (LEAP-SAF).

Statistical activity

Science and technology (S&T) and the information society are changing the way we live, learn and work. The concepts are closely intertwined: science generates new understanding of the way the world works, technology applies it to develop innovative products and services and the information society is one of the results of the innovations.

People are looking to Statistics Canada to measure and explain the social and economic impacts of these changes.

The purpose of this Program is to develop useful indicators of S&T activity in Canada based on a framework that ties them together in a coherent picture.


  • Business adaptation and adjustment
  • Business performance and ownership
  • Innovation
  • Research and development
  • Science and technology

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The survey population consisted primarily of Canadian firms that grew from small businesses (less than 99 employees) to medium-sized businesses (between 100 to 500 employees) during a period of rapid growth.

Instrument design

The interviewer guide was designed in consultation with stakeholders as well as Statistics Canada.

The interviewer guide content was tested in December 2004.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

This series of interviews included representation from a variety of industries but was not designed to be representative of the entire economy. The purpose was to obtain information about "technology-based" firms.

The interview frame was constructed from analysis of data from three Statistics Canada databases:

- the Survey of Innovation 1999 (regional enterprises),
- the Research and Development in Canadian Industry survey (enterprises) and
- the Longitudinal Employment Analysis Program(LEAP-SAF)--Small Area File (regional enterprises).

The target population was enterprises having experienced a rapid rate of employment growth which was defined as doubling in employment within a 5 year period. The threshold for being qualified high growth was pro-rated to shorter periods depending upon data availability.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2005-01-01 to 2005-03-31

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys.

The project requires three phases: literature search, interviews of firms and analysis of SIED's survey databases.

The literature focuses on characteristics such as the conduct of R&D, managerial skills, patenting access to capital and marketing capabilities. While these studies have been in the literature for some time, they do not present an integrated perspective from which IRAP can draw on advice. They also do not focus on the areas that IRAP or the government in general can provide support.

By conducting open-ended interviews with the CEOs of companies that have grown, we hope to better understand the "stories" of how the companies grew. This qualitative information will provide a valuable alternative perspective to the statistical data usually gathered through questionnaires. interviews offer the opportunity for customization, interaction and reinforcement. The interviewer has the opportunity to ask questions specific to that business, prompt for more detail and to re-focus the discussion on the topic at hand.

We plan to conduct about 25 interviews of firms selected from SIEID's database on biotechnology, R&D and innovation. The interviews are not intended as a representative sample but as a means of capturing the range of growth factors.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


This methodology does not apply.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

All interviewers were trained to follow the Interviewer Guide and record information in a consistent manner. Each interview record was verified for completeness. The data were analysed within a theoretical framework.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

Quality assurance measures were implemented at each step of the data collection and processing cycle to monitor the quality of the data.

These measures included the use of highly skilled interviewers, extensive training of interviewers with respect to procedures for the interviewer guide, observation of interviewers to detect problems of interviewer guide design or misunderstanding of instructions, and procedures to ensure that data was captured consistently.

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