The success of the Irish economy, and the technology sector in particular, over the last decade has been well noted. This article seeks to uncover the role that Irish participation in the ESPRIT programme of the European Union's Fourth Framework Programme has played in the building of Ireland's knowledge economy through its promotion of research collaboration. ne primary goal of ESPRIT was the Promotion of networking between organizations of similar interest across Europe, and in this article we examine the effects of the imposition of these more formal networks on organizations. The shift towards the promotion of more informal networks among European organizations in the pursuit of innovation is highlighted. After looking at Irish participation in the programme, we gauge the success of various projects and partners, and note the differences between networks, which were in place before participation in ESPRIT where personal networking was evident, and the more formal networks created by ESPRIT What becomes most obvious from analysing Irish participation is the conscious move on the part of those networks with a prior existence to advance their own research agenda by means of ESPRIT.