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Media Lab To Announce Partnership with Ireland

By Frank Dabek

MIT’s latest academic collaboration is with the Republic of Ireland -- the Irish government and MIT have announced the establishment of MediaLabEurope, a research center to be based in Dublin and designed to replicate the MIT Media Lab.

The Irish will provide 㿈M ($35.6M) as seed capital for the project. Of that initial capital, $10.75M will be donated to MIT. The Irish government will provide an additional $1M each year to support faculty, staff, and student exchange. Total expenses for the first ten years of the project are projected to be approximately $166M.

This collaboration follows the recent announcements of a $135M educational exchange between MIT and Cambridge University and a third graduate program for the Singapore-MIT alliance, an ongoing distance learning program.

Although this is the first expansion outside of MIT’s campus, in 1997 the Media Lab announced plans to expand onto the current site of E10. The E10 site will be used to build a Center for Future Children, funded by a $27M gift from Japanese businessman Isao Okawa.

In today’s announcement Media Lab Director Nicholas Negroponte said “I am extremely impressed with the Irish government’s clear understanding of the need to develop a flexible, far-sighted program to attract tomorrow’s digital entrepreneurs.” Negroponte has been named as acting executive director and first chairman of the board of MediaLabEurope.

During the first ten years of the project the two centers will have access to intellectual property developed at both centers. After that period the Irish center is, according to an MIT release, expected to “produce its own portfolio of basic research, digital applications, and computational methods.”

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said, “The fusion of MIT’s proven experience with the youth, energy and creative talent in Ireland will create a world class institute.”

The MediaLabEurope is expected to include 250 faculty members, research staff and students. It is estimated that the new center will employ 20 full-time faculty members from Ireland and abroad, 15 full-time research staff, and 20 part-time faculty members from universities across Ireland. At least half of the lab’s 100 post-graduate students will be Irish.

The laboratory will initially develop a cooperative program for conferring joint degrees with Irish Universities but will eventually create its own degree programs.

President Charles M. Vest said that the proposed center creates a “wonderful opportunity for MIT to play a leadership role in helping to establish a highly innovative research and teaching center that will surely play a major role in the economic future of Ireland and Europe.”