Silicon Valley tech unicorn Harness announces 80 jobs in new Belfast base

Harness co-founder Jyoti Bansal (second from left) with (L-R): interim Invest NI boss Mel Chittock; Economy Minister Gordon Lyons; and Nick Smyth, Harness site lead for Belfast.

THE founder of US tech unicorn Harness has said the software firm is invested in Belfast for the long-term.

Jyoti Bansal, who founded the Silicon Valley company just five years ago, was in Northern Ireland on Thursday to announce 80 jobs in an Invest NI-backed move.

The company, valued at $3.7 billion (£3bn) just four months ago, has already recruited 30 staff in Northern Ireland since setting up an engineering base in Belfast last year.

It expects to create 50 more jobs over the next two to three years, with Invest NI offering the firm a financial incentive of around £520,000.

Mr Bansal, who sold his first company AppDynamics to Cisco Systems for $3.7bn (£3bn) in 2017, now employs 800 people with his latest tech venture.

“We build a platform for software engineers. So when software engineers write code, that code can automatically, and in a secure and smooth way, be shipped to the end users,” he said.

The Indian-American tech entrepreneur said the Belfast team will play an important role in expanding the Harness platform in Europe.

“Belfast is very important for our R&D and European expansion. A lot of senior engineers are based here and we’re building some new products here, which is a big milestone.

“With many of our customers already located in the city, investing in our Belfast presence puts Harness in the centre of one of Europe’s strongest technology hubs.”

He said the company is “very excited” about Belfast.

“We were impressed by is how easy it is to get started and do business here compared to some other places.

Currently adopting a hybrid working strategy, Harness is based at Urban HQ’s flexible working space on Belfast’s Upper Queen Street.

“We have a beautiful co-working space here, but as we continue to grow, we will definitely be looking at our own separate office as well,” said Mr Bansal.

“We are invested here for the long-term.”

Like many other tech firms, the chief executive listed access to talent as a key attraction for setting up in the city.

“We were able to hire some really good people very quickly. Our teams in Silicon Valley have been very impressed working with the engineers here.

Interim Invest NI chief executive Mel Chittock said the economic development body has been in talks with Harness since 2019.

“By investing here, Harness will create new entrant positions, career progression opportunities and attract new talent to the region, to fuel its continued innovation and international growth,” he said.

Welcoming the announcement, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: "Harness is a fast-growing, innovative Silicon Valley start-up and a valuable addition to Northern Ireland’s technology sector.

“With hybrid working, people from all over Northern Ireland will be able to apply for these excellent opportunities.

“The positions on offer will attract interest across the experience spectrum – from graduates through to those considering returning and relocating to Northern Ireland to further their career.”