Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s federal minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, announced on Friday that the government’s Startup Visa Program is to become permanent following a five-year trial.

The scheme was launched in 2013 to help immigrants launch startups and allow them to apply for permanent residency once they secured capital from a Canadian VC fund or angel investor group. The program will be permanent from 2018, when the pilot is set to end on March 31.

The decision follows a recent evaluation that showed the program had led to more than 50 domestic VC funds, angel groups and incubators taking part in the program and having invested more than C$3.7m in equity ($3m) in the first three years.

A total of 117 applicants have been approved for permanent residency, representing 68 startups.

The initiative forms part of the Innovation and Skills Plan, the government’s drive to foster a tech-friendly innovation ecosystem.

Hussen said: “Every company launched in Canada with the help of the Startup Visa Program has the potential to be a big win for Canadians by providing middle-class jobs and strengthening our economy.

“Our government’s Innovation and Skills Plan has identified the nurturing of entrepreneurship and the growth of start-ups as vitally important to Canada’s present and future economy. Making the Startup Visa Program permanent supports that agenda.”