The acting director for MediaLab Europe, Ken Haase, maintained today that the Dublin base for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is still on target to create 250 jobs at the lab, which forms the cornerstone of the Digital Hub in Dublin’s Liberties.
In recent weeks, the MediaLab’s previous director Dr. Rudy Burger stepped down from his position, signalling the end of the first phase of development of the lab, which moved from a proposal two years ago to a reality today.
The lab currently employs over 100 researchers, half of whom are returning Irish ex-pats, and is engaged in top level research and development for corporate and academic sponsors of the non-profit MediaLab Europe.
The Irish Government is understood to have invested over US$30m in MediaLab Europe, which shares some US$50m in corporate sponsorship per annum with its Boston-based parent, MIT. Sponsors in the Dublin MediaLab include: AIB, Eircom, Ericsson, Telenor, Saab, Orange, Lego and Telecom Italia. The Liberties-based building covers a 10,000 sq ft site.
According to Haase, who will temporarily head the Dublin lab for six months, the search is on for a new CEO to take the Dublin operation through its next phase of development. Dr. Rudy Burger will continue to act as an advisor to the board of MediaLab Europe and will continue in his role of visiting scientist at the MIT lab.
Haase says: “The target [for 250 jobs] remains the same. We are currently employing 100 experts in various fields. There are lots of different factors at play. For example, while it is hard to get sponsorship for the lab during times of an economic downturn, the upside of that is it is easier to hire good people. One of the interesting things about the research community at MediaLab in Dublin is that half of the researchers there are ex-pat Irish people whose expertise wasn’t required in Ireland a decade ago and were part of the ‘brain drain’ who have returned to work in Ireland.”
As well as this, Haase explained that the MediaLab has begun a process of forging deeper links with Irish universities and colleges through the Higher Education Authority. It is understood that up to 12 Irish institutions are engaged in 21 different technological collaborations with MediaLab Europe. Haase expects to deepen the collaborations over the next few months and begin to extend this model into European academic institutions.
By John Kennedy
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