Growing US healthcare market leads to new tech hub in Northern Ireland
AN American investor is dipping its toe in the Northern Ireland market for the first time by bringing 50 high-end software and technical jobs to Belfast city centre.
But its boss insists it is only be the start, because the fast-growth company may eventually look to set up a call centre which would serve as its global help desk.
New York-based HHAeXchange, the leader in home care management software for payers and providers, is expanding its global operations by opening an IT development centre in the Scottish Provident Building in Belfast.
It is currently advertising for technical talent to support its growth, paying what it says are "above-average and highly competitive salaries".
But its chief executive Greg Strobel told the Irish News: "We could look later to set up a call centre for our level-one help desk, if we found a suitable employee base, and I don't rule out this place."
HHAeXchange is currently the leading home-care management software solutions provider in the US, where it bills around $6 billion (£5.2 billion) in home care services annually to more than 650 partners, mainly in the five boroughs of New York City.
Healthcare and home-care in America is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, with the combination of increasing numbers of over-65s and new legislation having created an increasing demand for solutions to streamline healthcare services and improve patient outcomes.
"The market is growing significantly, and as a company so too are we," added Strobel, who admits to having fallen in love with Belfast (he has made a number of visits to the city already).
"We've had to look to new ways of developing our technology to cope with an explosion in demand, and we're anticipating 20 to 30 per cent growth this year alone.
"The new contracts we've won recently in a dozen or more states in the US means we need to scale up our business quickly, and this new tech hub in Belfast will focus on developing cutting-edge technology solutions to meet the needs of that expanding customer base.”
He added: "Access to software knowledge and skilled talent is exceptional in Northern Ireland, as is ease of travel. Being on the east coast we can take a Sunday evening flight and be in Belfast for the whole week.
"We've also got a software team in India, so Belfast is a great bridge, and there's a nice time zone overlap."
HHAeXchange's innovative and user-friendly web-based platform provides a real-time connection between home-care providers and payers, enabling operational efficiency, increased compliance, and improved patient outcomes.
“Our software serves as the single source of truth for payers and providers, improving transparency and communication for better home care environments,” said Strobel.
Invest NI has offered £400,000 of support towards the new jobs, which will contribute more than £2 million a year in wages to the north's economy.
Gary Hanley, senior VP of the Americas for Invest NI, said: “We've been highlighting Northern Ireland's reputation as a great location for software development for some time.
"In this case, HHAeXchange was told about the access to great talent by another US company investing in Northern Ireland. You can't get a better testimonial than that.
“With several thousand STEM and ICT graduates every year, and a strong link between business and academia to ensure courses provide graduates with the relevant knowledge, it is no wonder the Northern Ireland software sector is performing so well.
“Projects like this, where developers will work on the very latest technology developments, provide a real opportunity to grow the knowledge and skills of the local workforce.”
The HHAeXchange comes a week after Belfast-based IT firm Novosco said it was creating 150 jobs as part of a major expansion of its business, paying average salaries of around £42,000.