Oracle has opened a £1.1 million support centre for UK and Irish customers in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The Belfast location was picked because of the availability of experienced IT professionals with strong academic backgrounds, the company said. It also helped that the investment agency Invest Northern Ireland kicked in £250,000 in funding.

Oracle, which announced its intentions to open the facility last November, said it planned to work with Invest Northern Ireland to establish links with local universities to help development of new products and services. The company said it had not yet determined how many software specialists Oracle would hire locally.

The opening of Oracle's new Irish support centre comes less than two weeks after rival Microsoft unveiled plans for an Irish-based research and development centre in Sandyford, County Dublin, that will employ about 100 people within two years.