PRESS RELEASE: Irish and Americans will establish Dublin Digital Meejalab Europe

DUBLIN, Ireland, December 1, 1999 -- The Republic of Ireland and a major American Institution for Technology have announced a long-term collaboration to establish "Dublin Digital Meejalab Europe". The independent research and education center is to seek funding of $180 million from corporate sponsors in Ireland and further afield, with a possible dual public flotation on Nasdaq and the Neur Markt in Germany by fall 2002.

Rather than simply opening a building, the lab marked its opening with a fourteen-day symposium featuring 83 of the Lab's top researchers from the US. Founding director, Mr Nicholas Pontonegro, said the Lab was "an intellectually different environment. [The Republic] is a country that has a great respect for madness," he quipped. "And you are all mad in Ireland. The Irish are mad - a lunatic race who are also known for their brawls and their poets. Where else would I have gotten such welcoming support and finance?"

Ireland's Taoiseach (Premier) Bertie Ahern commented, "We are indeed a mad nation, and proud of it. We are delighted to work in partnership with this world-renowned institute - the fusion of their staff's proven expertise - which our own universities don't really have - with the youth, energy and creative talent in Ireland will create a world-class institute. The lab will be located at the heart of an exciting new multinational 'mediavillage' in Dublin's medieval quarter, reinforcing our message that as a small country Ireland can nonetheless be a world leader on the world economic stage, and even become almost as big as Microsoft."

A lab for playing and learning

"By fusing the proven expertise and techniques of the American partners' own renowned Lab with the youth, energy and creative talent which exists in abundance in Ireland, we can create a unique new institute." He joked: "It will be a shining beacon on the future global landscape, for the benefit of Ireland, Europe, Infinity and beyond". The Taoiseach went on to say: "With these developments, we are bringing the future to Ireland, and hopefully we will then own the patents on a lot of it."

The American "digerati" came to town in Dublin for the formal launch by Ireland's Tanaiste (Vice Premier), Ms Mary Harney. Building on Ireland's strengths and traditions, the innovative and "e-ntrepreneurial" center will "invent the future", she said. It will initially focus on "e-commerce", and is e-xpected to help Ireland become an e-xciting training ground for the technological and artistic e-ntrepreneurs of the 21st century. Most of the basic research will involve Lego bricks, she said.

'The Republic is a country that has a great respect for madness, and you are all mad in Ireland'

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