MIT Media Lab Asia and Media Lab Ireland to close down

It is unfortunate that the internationalization experiments of the highly successful Media Lab at MIT did not go well.

Media Lab Asia (MLA) was started in India with lots of fanfare (I wrote a piece on this in Economic Times in April 25, 2002)

None other than the high profile IT Minister Pramod Mahajan was driving it. Several IIT Professors were involved. More than Rs 100 Crores were budgeted in the three years (the full project was a Billion Dollar project over a decade). Very interesting projects (such as Internet Thela – bicycle powered Internet Kiosk with Wi-Fi connectivity) were executed.

Unfortunately there were some “impedence mismatches”; IT Minister Arun Shourie was rubbed on the wrong side

In the February 28, 2005 budget MLA got a quiet burial!

Just last week, there was news that the Media Lab in Ireland (the seed for a larger Media Lab Europe) is also closing down.

It appears that academic Institutions attempting to set up global centers need to do far detailed homework before they can be successful.

Many Indian Institutions (IIT’s and IIM’s) in their global march, will be better off, if they learn from MIT Media Lab experiences.

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