Posted on Wednesday 23 March 2011 byUlster Business
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Jeff Wylie, KANA Belfast, Mark Duffell, KANA Software Inc and Alastair Hamilton, CEO, Invest NI
Northern Ireland's reputation as an international technology hub has been further strengthened by news that US company KANA Software is to create more than 100 new jobs in Belfast.
The California headquartered firm, which acquired local firm Lagan Technologies in November 2010 and specialises in technology used in service management, announced it would make a £7m investment in Northern Ireland to more than double the existing workforce of 90 in Belfast over the next three years.
Invest Northern Ireland has offered £981,000 to help the company open a new development, consulting services and technical support unit in Belfast, where Lagan has been based since 1994.
Chief executive of KANA Mark Duffell told Ulster Business that while KANA Software counts half of the Fortune 100 companies among its clients - including Adidas, Nokia and eBay - it was keen to target more business in the European market from Belfast.
"KANA are a growing international company and we had a requirement to build out an international hub. We acquired Lagan last year and through that process we saw that there were a lot of cultural similarities between KANA and Lagan and to be frank we also saw Belfast as a great location," he said.
"Coming into acquiring Lagan we were looking to acquire a good business that had a good fit with KANA. While going through that process the attractiveness of Belfast really came to light, it wasn't something we were aware of before that," he added.
Duffell said that the company had been looking at other international locations including India, China, the Philippines and Eastern Europe, but the footprint Lagan already had here, the cultural fit, the support received by Invest NI, and the skills base for both new graduates and senior staff made Northern Ireland the perfect location from which to support its international clients.
Lagan will continue to trade within the KANA organisation and will maintain its internationally recognised focus on Government to Citizen Technology. The KANA CEO said that it would be looking to recruit for the majority of the 109 new positions from Northern Ireland.
"We're looking for people here. Lagan has 90 people here so the infrastructure is here. We don't have the requirement to bring teams of people in to set this up. It is the local employer here that will be training the new recruits," he said.
"From an employee standpoint this is a great opportunity for new employees and existing employees to work for a growing international company with international exposure. We have employees that are based here working in Houston, Toronto, Brisbane and many other places," he added.
The KANA Group employs 321 staff in the US, Great Britain, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Australia and Japan. Duffell said the Belfast office would be used for a number of functions core to the global operation.
"A lot of our core product development will happen here. We will have all the resources here to support our international customers - that would be technical support as well as professional services, and we'll build out our finance and accounting, so most functions within the company will be here as we continue to grow," he said.
Invest Northern Ireland chief executive Alastair Hamilton told Ulster Business KANA was exactly the sort of technology-based business the agency wanted to attract to Northern Ireland.
"It's great news to see a company like Lagan first of all acquired by a global brand in KANA and to see jobs not only secured here but the announcement they are going to create another 100 jobs," he said.
"There was a very clear message from the senior team at KANA that they were initially interested in acquiring Lagan as a company because of its reputation, because of its fit - Lagan would be very much focused on the public sector and Kana on the private sector, so it was a great combination," he added.
"The initial interest was around the capability and the market opportunity. But actually when they got here and saw the business, saw the people, and got a feel for the capability that was here, they took another decision to retain the site here in Belfast as a European hub."