A little bit of MIT comes to Ireland


The planned MediaLab Europe and the accompanying multimedia village will be modelled on the media laboratory at MIT, which was established in 1985. MIT's MediaLab is "easily the world's best known research laboratory because of its unlikely but compelling projects", according to Karlin Lillington, of this newspaper's Business This Week team.

The MediaLab, Lillington writes, does "wearable computer `smart clothes', computerised `dance sneakers', intelligent roads that provide digital feedback, a virtual dog called Sydney the Cyber Terrier and other intriguing things that emerge at the intersection of technology, creativity and the bizarre. Described by MIT as the place where `bits meet atoms', the lab's special interest groups include Toys of Tomorrow, Counter Intelligence (focused on `self-aware kitchens') and Gray Matter (which `considers the impact of computation and communication on the lives of older people')."

Now, the MediaLab is coming to Ireland in the form of the £130 million MediaLab Europe (MLE), MIT's first independent spin-off. MLE will be an independent entity. It will forge strong links with the existing education sector in Ireland, particularly the third-level colleges and universities, and each year £1 million will be provided by the State to promote collaborative work between MediaLab Europe and the Irish third-level sector. Guest lectureships are envisaged and there will be room for part-time involvement with the MediaLab by people based in other institutes.

The centre will specialise in multimedia, digital content and Internet technologies. It is expected to attract major international interest and sponsorship and to lead to new start-up companies and increased entrepreneurship in Ireland. It will be a central location for domestic and international companies engaged in multimedia and digital industries. IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland will be involved in developing and promoting the centre.