A €46m national software research centre has been officially launched at the University of Limerick.

The investment by Science Foundation Ireland in the Lero centre will see 90 PhD and 46 post-doctoral research positions created over the next six years.

Ten years old this year, Lero was among five research centres to be chosen by SFI last year to be transformed into a national world-class facility through additional investment.

The expansion will see software researchers from UCC and Maynooth incorporated into the new operation, with the result that all Irish universities and Dundalk IT are now represented in the UL-based centre.

The fresh investment will also result in Lero expanding its field of research from pure software engineering to include other areas like cyber security, Internet of Things, cloud computing, medical devices and smart cities.

Two thirds of the funding for the project is coming from the State and EU structural funds, with the balance of €13.8m coming from industry collaborators, which include IBM, Fidelity Investments and Microsoft.

Local and multinational technology companies will be able to access and work with the expertise of the researchers at Lero.

It is also hoped that Lero will help to bridge the skills gap in the software industry, by training and upskilling experts in the area, who may one day go on to set up their own companies.

Lero is the latest of 12 SFI-backed world-class national research centres, which are either up and running or in development.