Isardata Software Quality Engineering, a specialist software testing business based at Wolfratshausen, near Munich is investing £571,000 to set up a software testing and development operation at Down Business Centre in Downpatrick. The new centre is being established to meet a growing European demand for its services and to provide a platform for growth in the United Kingdom.

The investment was announced by Leslie Morrison, Invest Northern Ireland’s Chief Executive, and Dr Nandakishore Banerjee, Isardata Chief Executive Officer, who founded the business in 1986.

Isardata’s expertise is in the supply of products and services in the field of software quality assurance and testing. Isardata TestOffice, is the company’s own product designed for the test management and automated testing of software. It is used by a client portfolio including major European corporations such as Lufthansa, Siemens, Deutsche Post, Karstadt Quelle and Aventa Pharma. TestOffice is the result of Isardata’s extensive R&D commitment.

The Downpatrick operation will provide software quality assurance products and services as well as expertise in software testing and development.

Welcoming the investment, Mr Morrison said: “Isardata is an entrepreneurial and technically expert company which has developed a strong reputation in a critically important IT market niche that is set for strong growth.

“The investment introduces a new IT function to Northern Ireland’s developing software cluster and, over the next three years, will provide good quality opportunities for 15 people to gain new skills and experience as quality assurance engineers with a company already operating across Europe.

“The presence of a respected German technology company in Northern Ireland will help us to promote our knowledge-based economy to the ICT sector in Germany and other European centres,” he added.

Outlining the company’s plans, Dr Banerjee said: “Our business is focused on helping clients ensure that increasingly sophisticated and customised software packages are quality assured to operate efficiently at all times.

“This expertise is now in great demand because software underpins virtually every aspect of business today. As a result, the global market for quality test tools is projected to grow to $2.5 billion by 2005.”

Dr Banerjee said the company had decided to locate an operation in Northern Ireland because of a shortage of software testing and development skills in Germany.

“We looked at a number of possible locations in Europe and India before opting for a base in Northern Ireland where we found that young software graduates who can be trained in the engineering skills that we urgently require are more readily available than in other locations.

“I was very favourably impressed by the quality of the software departments at University of Ulster, Queen’s University in Belfast and the local Further Education College in Downpatrick. I look forward to working with them on the development of automated software quality assurance skills. They have been quick to recognise that software quality assurance is now an extremely important discipline.

“Our decision was also influenced by favourable comments about Northern Ireland’s highly skilled and easily motivated people by Segue, one of our software development partners which has had an technical support operation in Belfast since 1996,” he added.

Chitra Dewan, who will be the Managing Director of the Downpatrick operation, said Isardata is expected to start recruitment in August and the company will begin operations the following month.