The Software Alliance launches as the voice of Northern Ireland’s £1.7 billion Software Industry

The Software Alliance Board pictured at The Merchant Hotel, Belfast. 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).
Tom Gray (Deputy Chair of The Software Alliance), Angela McGowan (CBI Northern Ireland Director), Mark Owens (Managing Director Civica NI), Tara Simpson (CEO, Instil Software), John Healy (Chairperson, The Software Alliance), Jayne Brady (Head, Northern Ireland Civil Service).
Lorna McAdoo (NI Site Lead, Version 1), Andrew Gough (Managing Director, GCD Technologies), Fustina Donaghy (NI Site Lead, Ocula Technologies), Sam Mawhinney (Director of Innovation, Liberty IT), Tom Gray (CTO, Kainos).

The Software Alliance has officially launched as the industry-led, representative voice of the £1.7 billion software industry in Northern Ireland.

Established in 2022 by a group of independent companies in the industry, we held an official launch event at The Merchant Hotel, Belfast on Thursday 2 March where we set out our mission to over 110 representatives from industry, government, and education.

Founding members of the alliance include Allstate NI, Civica NI, GCD Technologies, Instil Software, Liberty IT and Kainos. As a whole, the software engineering industry employs an estimated 23,000 people across 2,200 companies in Northern Ireland and contributes an estimated £1.7 billion to the economy each year.

Addressing the launch event, our Chairperson John Healy OBE set out the alliance’s mission to lobby and support strategy and policy development to ensure that Northern Ireland becomes the world leading region for innovative software businesses.

As a group, we seek to identify and address the problems the industry faces, including labour shortages and skills issues. As a result of increasing demands for jobs, local estimates have shown that in 2021, there were 7,700 vacancies in the sector in Northern Ireland.

The Software Alliance launch event was addressed by Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service Jayne Brady and CBI Northern Ireland Director Angela McGowan, who set out the strength of potential in the sector and need for a collective voice going forward.

Director at Technology Ireland Una Fitzpatrick and Head of Nations and Regions at techUK Matt Robinson also attended and endorsed the launch of The Software Alliance, while Deputy Chairperson Tom Gray, Chief Technology Officer at Kainos, chaired a panel discussion with alliance members.

In its formative year, The Software Alliance has grown to represent a range of local software companies that employ over 5,500 people, from microbusinesses to large companies, and represents approximately 25% of the total software workforce in Northern Ireland.

As a growing organisation, we will seek to appoint a Chief Executive to lead our activities in the coming weeks.

Chairperson of The Software Alliance John Healy OBE said:   

“We are pleased to have brought the industry together today to mark our official launch as the voice of software in Northern Ireland. 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. 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.”

Speaking at the launch of The Software Alliance, Jayne Brady, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, said:                                                                                   

“We have a vibrant and expanding software industry, and we should be proud that Northern Ireland is a leading region for innovative software businesses. This is an industry that provides solutions right across the public and private sectors, with ICT contributing an estimated £1.7 billion to the economy each year. I am thrilled, therefore, to see industry players come together to establish this collaborative forum and have no doubt The Software Alliance will contribute to the success and endurance of Northern Ireland’s wider technology sector.”

Angela McGowan, CBI Northern Ireland Director said:                          

“I am delighted to support the launch of The Software Alliance, having worked in partnership with its founding members via the CBI’s Digital Skills NI network. The supply of people with relevant skills remains of paramount importance for all companies in Northern Ireland, however the acute shortage of local software engineering and data analytic skills requires specialist attention.  This Alliance will allow business to support our local schools, HE and FE colleges with developing their curriculums to meet industry’s current and emerging software skill needs.  As the local economy embarks on its 10X Economic Strategy, the Software Alliance will play a crucial role in ensuring that business, educationalists, and government collaborate on a range of issues from course work, student placements, upskilling the current workforce to developing a future supply pipeline for this important sector of the NI economy.”

Fustina Donaghy, NI Site Lead at Ocula Technologies, a member organisation of The Software Alliance added:               

“As a new Tech Start-up, membership of The Software Alliance for us is about strength in numbers. Together we can combine experiences and ideas to collaborate on areas such as skills, labour market challenges, R&D and investments making sure that all companies, large and small, in the sector are represented.”