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03-12-1999 Taoiseach announces MediaLab Europe and Multimedia Village


The Taoiseach confirmed today that the Government is to set up a new research and development institute in partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The Taoiseach also announced plans for a multimedia village in Dublin, with the new institute at its heart.

The new institute will be known as MediaLab Europe, or MLE, and will specialise in multimedia, digital content and internet technologies. Modelled on the highly successful MediaLab at MIT, it is expected to attract major international interest and sponsorship and to lead to new start-up companies and increased entrepreneurship in Ireland.

The multimedia village will be a central location for domestic and international companies engaged in multimedia and digital industries. It will also be the permanent home for MLE. IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland will be involved in developing and promoting the centre.

A Task Force of senior officials from Government Departments and agencies, with representatives of the Information Society Commission and some independent experts, will oversee development of both projects.

Speaking at a press conference in Government Buildings today, the Taoiseach said that he was confident that these new initiatives would mark a major step forward for Ireland in the global, electronic economy, and would help establish the country as an international centre for multimedia and electronic commerce.

He added:

"By fusing the proven expertise and techniques of the MIT MediaLab with the youth, energy and creative talent which exists in abundance in Ireland, we can create a unique new institute which will be a shining beacon on the future global landscape, for the benefit of Ireland, Europe and beyond".

The Taoiseach went on to say:

"With these developments, we are bringing the future to Ireland".

The National Development Plan, published recently, earmarks almost £2 billion for research and development. The MLE announcement represents one of the first initiatives under that part of the plan.

The Government will provide a premises for MLE, and will contribute up to £28m in seed capital. The operating budget is projected to be around £130m over ten years, with most revenue coming from industry sponsorship, using the pooled sponsor approach which has been successfully pioneered at MIT’s MediaLab, led by world famous technology expert, Nicholas Negroponte.

This is the first time that the MIT MediaLab has entered such a partnership. Negroponte, who was in Dublin for the announcement, said:

"We view MLE as an opportunity to develop the unique style of MITML with an Irish tradition and through a special window into the rest of Europe. Ireland provides the kind of intellectual, economic and governmental environment ideally suited for this ambitious international effort to transform ways of thinking and creating.".

Speaking from Masssachusetts, Charles Vest, President of MIT, said:

" The MIT MediaLab’s spirit of openness, interaction and direct linkages of media-based activities with industry is one that we firmly believe can be established in Ireland through MediaLab Europe, which will become a catalyst for economic and technological advancement there and throughout Europe".

The Taoiseach acknowledged the importance of close links between the new institute and the existing education sector. He went on to announce that the Government would contribute £1million each year to fund collaborative work between MLE and Irish universities.