Dáil Éireann - Volume 545 - 27 November, 2001
Written Answers. - Research and Educational Facilities.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
122. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Public Enterprise if she will provide an update of the situation regarding MediaLab Europe; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27579/01]
Mrs. O'Rourke Mrs. O'Rourke
Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke): MediaLab Europe, which was established as a third level research and educational facility in a partnership between the Irish Government and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is now entering its second year of operations. The focus in its first year was on recruitment and facilities development as well as establishing its profile for commercial sponsorship of its research. There is now a top class research team in place comprising 40 full-time researchers and 20 post-graduate researchers admitted under MediaLab Europe's two year fellowship programme. The staffing and student  intake is composed of Irish, European and US nationals.
Research is spread over a number of areas such as the use of technology that can enable or empower people who are otherwise marginalised; interfaces where touch is used instead of or in addition to sight and sound; the dynamics of wireless networks and applications; everyday learning; mobile technologies; use of technology for physical and mental health and the future of music and story networks. In addition, a number of projects are funded by the Higher Education Authority as part of a scheme to facilitate collaboration between MediaLab Europe and Irish universities.
As part of the agreement to establish MediaLab Europe, the Government undertook to provide a suitable premises. Purchase of the former Guinness hopstore building and an adjacent former Guinness property has now been completed and MediaLab Europe is working with the Office of Public Works on refurbishment plans. In line with this agreement, the buildings will remain in State hands.
In the broader context, the slowdown in the high tech sector, particularly in the USA, has certainly increased the challenge for MediaLab Europe to secure commercial sponsorship of its research activities. However, MediaLab Europe's prime target is European industry from a diverse range of sectors including but also beyond the information and communications technology or ICT sector. In addition, MediaLab Europe is just one part of a long-term strategy to develop our R&D capacity and move our IT sector up the value chain. In the current climate it is all the more important that we continue this approach to ensure that Ireland maintains its position internationally and is ready to take advantage of future growth opportunities.
Question No. 123 answered with Question No. 72.
Dáil Éireann 545 Written Answers. Research and Educational Facilities.