The walls of the Alcatel Lucent/Bell Laboratories corridors in Blanchardstown carry five or six plaques commemorating the Nobel Prizes won by Bell Laboratory scientists. The most recent one was 1998, but the quality of the work that had been performed in Bell Laboratories for a number of decades had resulted in the highest academic award being made to them. Juxtaposing academic awards with an industrial context is seen by some as an impossible combination, but Bell Laboratories has shown that this is not the case.
The event in the Bell Labs Research Centre in Blanchardstown was to announce a new joint investment with IDA Ireland http://www.idaireland.com/news-media/press-releases/irish-government-and-alca/index.xml. The focus is on high-quality research activities. The continued presence of Bell Labs in Ireland should not be taken for granted however, decisions to continue working in this country reflects well on the scientific environment that is provided. Dr. Jeong Kim, President of Bell Laboratories referred to this in his comments and in a more informal breakfast meeting. The quality of the people and the relevance of the research that is performed in Ireland are major factors in their decision to continue to develop their activities here.
The Bell Labs group made its first investments in Ireland to coincide with the establishment by SFI of a Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) in the area of telecommunications. This CSET, the Centre for Telecommunications Value-Chain Research (CTVR), has established a great working relationship with the Bell Lab group and other industrial partners such as Xilinx Research Labs, M/A-Com, NXP, Socowave Ltd and Dell. Typical of the SFI CSETs, the CTVR combines high-quality research with a proven relevance of this research to their industrial partners. The Bell Labs announcement was made by Tánaiste, Mary Coughlan T.D., and in her remarks she also pointed to the major importance of investment in high-quality research, such that industries of the calibre of Bell Labs/Alcatel Lucent are retained, grow and transform in Ireland.
Some may say that a further 75 jobs will not cure the employment problems in Ireland and this is numerically true. To add more high-quality jobs, however, brings with it an inevitable multiplying factor into the economy and sends yet another signal worldwide that Ireland is a seriously relevant location for those companies interested in developing their products through research and development. This coincides with the vision and mission of SFI and the announcement this week was a nice illustration of how it is working.