Bell Labs rings in with €69m Dublin R&D venture


30 Jun 2004

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World-renowned research giant Bell Labs, a subsidiary of Lucent Technologies, is to invest €69m in a new research and development (R&D) headquarters focusing on telecoms and supply chain technologies that will be located at Lucent’s facility in Blanchardstown. The investment will also include the establishment of a Centre for Telecommunications Value Chain-Driven Research (CTVCDR) at Trinity College Dublin.

The investment in the two centres, which is supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and IDA Ireland will result in job opportunities for up to 120 researchers.

Dr Jeff Jaffe, president of research and advanced technologies at Bell Labs, said: “Establishing a Bell Labs centre in Ireland signifies Lucent’s commitment to creating a long-term presence in this country and indeed in Europe. Europe is a critical market for us, so it is appropriate that we create a research centre here dedicated to exploring ways that we can bring better, even more innovative products to market faster.

“Ireland is at the heart of Lucent’s European supply chain operations and the company currently employs 500 in Ireland as part of the approximately 5,000 employees in its operations across all of the major European countries,” Jaffe added.

The Bell Labs centre in Blanchardstown, Dublin, will account for over €43m of the investments being made jointly by Bell Labs and IDA Ireland. The centre could directly employ 40 research scientists and engineers. It will act as a corporate research headquarters that will carry out its own programme of R&D and have a corporate mandate as a centre of excellence for CTVCDR.

It will research and deliver in-depth knowledge and advanced technologies for the development of new product designs and manufacturing strategies for Lucent Technologies, one of the global leaders in communications systems, services and software. The centre will concentrate on several strategic areas – the creation of highly configurable hardware and software platforms for quicker time-to-market supply chain flexibility and lowered development costs; manufacturing and engineering research in photonics, electronics and wireless technologies and systems; and research on advanced value-chain modelling and optimisation for next-generation manufacturing operations.

The remaining €26m of the investment will go into the CTVCDR at TCD. The research to be undertaken in CTVCDR will focus on advancements in product engineering, manufacturing and value/supply chain techniques, tools and technologies. The expertise and know-how developed in the centre will facilitate, stimulate and encourage design and innovation, and allow for new products to be brought to the market more quickly and more efficiently. That expertise and know-how will be directly applicable to both multinational and indigenous companies engaged in the design, manufacture and operation of highly refined electronics products, including in the next-generation of fixed and wireless communications networks.

The CTVCDR will involve eight other leading Irish universities and Institutes of Technology, including the University of Limerick; National University of Ireland Maynooth; the Dublin Institute of Technology; the Institute of Technology Sligo; University College Dublin; Dublin City University and University College Cork and National Microelectronics Research Centre.

Researchers from both new centres will work together in tightly knit teams. The knowledge and expertise of some of Bell Lab’s top talent will be available to the research teams and the global reach of Lucent Technologies will be important in bringing the research to fruition. The Bell Labs facility in Ireland will exploit the effective use and commercialisation of innovations that will emerge from the CTVCDR.

Mike Devane, vice-president and managing director of Lucent Technologies in Ireland, said: “Bringing Bell Labs to Dublin is a major accomplishment. It is a welcome development of our Blanchardstown site that takes us to an exciting world of research. It is an excitement we share with the universities, the IDA and SFI. Given the history, tradition and success of Bell Labs, this world-class research centre will open up new possibilities for collaboration within Ireland and Europe.”

Dr William Harris, director general of SFI, added: ”Today’s investment is further testament to SFI’s commitment to supporting world-class research in Ireland. This investment will act both to attract additional industrial research initiatives into Ireland and as a catalyst for the creation of future technology start-ups in Ireland. Importantly, it signals the quality and potential of the academic research culture in Ireland and the skills and knowledge that Irish students will acquire through the CTVCDR.”

By John Kennedy