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14 January 2005

Board of Directors announces closure of Media Lab Europe

Media Lab Europe Press Statement

Dublin; January 14 - The Board of Directors of Media Lab Europe announced today that it is putting the company into voluntary solvent liquidation....

The decision was taken because its principal stakeholders - the Irish Government and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - have not reached agreement on a new funding model for the organisation.

Media Lab Europe was launched in 2000 as a ground-breaking research and innovation laboratory in the fields of digital technologies. Since its establishment, it has built up expertise in a range of innovative research. It grew to a community of around 100 people, covering staff, researchers, students, collaborators and part-time undergraduate students.

A substantial array of projects, many of truly ground-breaking potential, have been developed over the past four years in association with its partners including companies like AIB (Ireland) AOL (US and Ireland), BT (UK), Ericsson (Sweden), Essilor (France), Intel (US and Ireland) and Orange (UK/France), and development agencies like Highlands and Islands Enterprise in Scotland.

The Board believes that it is important to acknowledge the innovative work of the Lab since it was established. Much of this work has been coming to fruition in recent months, with fourteen patent applications filed and a number of commercialisation opportunities being explored.

Media Lab Europe was pleased with the introduction of MIT's Masters degree programme in Media, Arts and Sciences to Ireland.

There have been over 20 collaborative projects with Irish universities under way where faculty and students from the university collaborate with Media Lab Europe researchers, with activity taking place at both centres. This provided a number of Irish third-level institutes with exposure to MIT innovation.

The Lab also participated in a number of EU-funded international research collaborations, including FASIL (Flexible and Adaptive Spoken Language and Multi-Modal Interfaces) and a Network of Excellence called ENACTIVE, under the EU IST Priority heading 'Multimodal Interfaces'.

Initial funding for the lab came from the Irish Government and it was expected to gradually become self-financing through securing corporate funding for its research activities. However, the climate of the past four years has proven extremely difficult for the lab, MIT and the international ICT sector.

Last year the Lab advised its main stakeholders that the levels of external funding being raised were insufficient to sustain it into the future. Subsequently, in May, it presented a Strategic Plan to the Government and MIT seeking additional funding.

The Board would like to record its appreciation of the special dedication and outstanding contribution made by the Lab's staff, who have contributed so much over the organisation's relatively short history. Many of the staff came to Ireland from all over Europe and the US to take up positions with the laboratory.

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