The University of Ulster has launched Northern Ireland's first specialist software support centre to provide a key link in the global e-business chain.
The Centre for Software Process Technologies will have seven staff. With planned expansion, it could create 15 other posts over the next three years.
George Wilkie, the centre's director, said: "There is a need for greater infrastructural support for Northern Ireland's rapidly growing software industry, helping companies to improve their software development practices, enabling them to become more competitive."
The centre has been established ahead of securing funding because demand and interest from the software industry have been high.
One of the centre's key tools for business is the Capability Maturity Model developed at Carnegie-Mellon University in the United States.
Dr Wilkie said: "We plan to introduce this technology, which is a blend of management, human resource and technical analysis. It enables a company to assess its ability to develop quality software, providing a benchmark against which future improvements can be quantified.
"There are now many US-based companies investing in Northern Ireland and Ireland as a whole. They are establishing satellite software development operations to service their seemingly insatiable appetite for software systems. Many of these organisations are already attuned to the advantages of employing the CMM.
"Home-grown software companies with an eye to global markets also recognise the benefits from this technology," Dr Wilkie said.