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By Leena Rao

AOL has joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab as a sponsor, which according to the consortium’s site, costs around $200,000. The MIT Media Lab is a research community that focuses on the study, development and invention of digital technologies.

The sponsorship, which lasts for 3 years, was spearheaded by AOL Ventures, an investment fund launched by AOL in 2009 to nurture early-stage external and employee-originated ideas. With the sponsorship, AOL have access to all of the research conducted at the Lab; Lab-wide visiting privileges; open invitations to Lab-wide lectures and special events; and most importantly, non-exclusive, license-fee-free, royalty-free licensing rights for IP that’s developed within the lab.

Jeff Reynar, who was recently hired from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to head up engineering for AOL, will be responsible for coordinating the collaboration with Media Lab research teams. According to the release Reynar will be exploring ways to incorporate innovation in AOL’s content business so I’d expect for AOL to be looking at content-related technologies to license at the Lab.

It’s not a bad deal for AOL, considering that the Media Lab has some fairly innovative projects coming out of its program. One project that caught our eye was Personas, which takes your name and searches the web for some context around it. The technology then takes the words and sites it finds to build a profile of your presence on the web. Other Media Lab sponsored technologies include EchoNest and MusicBox.

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