New umbrella group formed for Northern Ireland's £1.7bn software industry

A panel discussion during Thursday's launch of the Software Alliance (L-R): Lorna McAdoo, Version 1; Andrew Gough, GCD Technologies; Fustina Donaghy, Ocula Technologies; Sam Mawhinney, Liberty IT; and Tom Gray, Kainos.

A NEW industry-led body has been launched to act as the voice of the north’s £1.7 billion software industry.

The Software Alliance was initially set up last year by some of Northern Ireland’s biggest tech firms as a vehicle to lobby on strategy and policy development.

Founding firms include Allstate NI, Kainos, Liberty IT, Civica NI, GCD Technologies and Instil Software.

The umbrella group, which will soon appoint a new chief executive, was officially launched at an event in Belfast’s Merchant Hotel on Thursday, where its chair John Healy addressed 110 industry stakeholders.

The former Allstate NI boss said the Software Alliance will initially prioritise labour shortages and skills issues.

“We exist to be the central vehicle through which software engineering companies large and small can collectively set the strategic direction for the industry going forward,” said Mr Healy.

The Software Alliance board at The Merchant Hotel. Back row L-R: Tara Simpson (Instil Software), William Hamilton (formerly of Liberty IT), Sam Mawhinney (Liberty IT), Andrew Gough (GCD Technologies). Front L-R: Michael Gould (Interim Chief Executive of The Software Alliance), Tom Gray (Kainos/Deputy Chair of The Software Alliance), Lorna McAdoo (Version 1), Mark Owens (Civica NI), John Healy (Chairperson, The Software Alliance).

“From a group of six independent companies engineering software right across NI, we have developed into an organisation that represents thousands in the industry and brings companies together to work collectively on the matters that impact us all.

“Looking ahead, we look forward to welcoming not only a chief executive but the expertise of the many thriving software firms operating locally as we progress, as a collective, to ensure a sustainable and prosperous economic future for Northern Ireland.”

Thursday’s event also heard from the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Jayne Brady and CBI NI director Angela McGowan.