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$100 million gift launches Foxconn, UW research partnership
Research collaboration

$100 million gift launches Foxconn, UW research partnership

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MADISON — Foxconn Technology Group, and its chairman and founder Terry Gou, on Monday announced plans to invest $100 million in engineering and innovation research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while also creating the framework for a science and technology institute that will collaborate closely with the company’s future facilities in Mount Pleasant.

The Foxconn investment will include funding to help establish a new interdisciplinary research facility for the College of Engineering on the UW–Madison campus.

Gou and other senior Foxconn executives visited the campus Monday and, along with university officials, signed several agreements designed to formalize and streamline their future working relationship.

Under the Foxconn UW–Madison Collaboration Declaration, the parties will establish the Foxconn Institute for Research in Science and Technology, or FIRST. It is intended to be a hub for technological innovation and provide an environment for research and development initiatives in medical science, materials science, computer and data-driven science and other fields.

FIRST will have its main location at the future Wisconn Valley Science & Technology Park in Mount Pleasant and also an off-campus presence in Madison.

According to the written announcement, the agreements formalize UW’s commitment to being part of research efforts at FIRST and Foxconn’s commitment to activities such as research, recruiting, creating opportunities for internships and hands-on work in campus labs.

In addition, the planned engineering building is meant to enhance UW’s capabilities and allow it to be an active partner in research of mutual interest with FIRST.

Taiwan-based Foxconn is the global leader in manufacturing services for the computer, communication, and consumer electronics industry.

Faster innovation movement

UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank said the partnership means “life-changing innovations move more quickly from the lab into the workplace” and will avoid “having to renegotiate details every time” Foxconn and UW-Madison aim to partner on a project.

“At Foxconn, we see our role as not only being a major investor in Wisconsin, but also a long-term partner to the local community,” Gou stated. “This includes promoting a vibrant environment that nurtures and enables Wisconsin’s talented workforce, allowing them to tap the immense opportunities that Wisconn Valley has to offer.

“The Foxconn Institute for Research in Science and Technology will provide funding on practical topics and capabilities in core areas that will become increasingly invaluable to the advanced technology hub, along with the artificial intelligence, 8K resolution and 5G wireless technology ecosystem that we are building in Wisconsin.”

Largest industry research partnership

The multifaceted, interdisciplinary partnership to help develop the state’s research and engineering talent is both the largest industry research partnership and one of the largest gifts in the history of the university, Blank stated.

The bulk of the Foxconn gift will go toward a new interdisciplinary facility for the College of Engineering, complete details of which will be announced later.

Blank said the partnership with Foxconn “combines the strengths of two global leaders: one of the world’s top high-tech manufacturing companies and one of the world’s top universities. Our collaboration will bring together some of the world’s leading scientists, physicians and engineers to drive advances in technology and science while fostering the talent pipeline that will help build Wisconsin’s future.”

Areas of potential study could include advanced technology on panel, biochips, semiconductors, application-specific integrated circuits, smart building, smart infrastructure and smart city development, high-performance computing, high-speed communications networks, cloud server storage, sensors, robotics and IT systems.

There also will be a focus on advancing research on human health in areas such as genomics, immune cell research, clinical data integrity and processing and medical imaging in cancer and related diseases. The two parties also will work together to identify and develop initiatives to promote technological advancement, education and scientific outreach.

The partnership, Foxconn officials said, aligns with its continued efforts to identify linkages between academia and industry to drive technological advancement and to establish a talent pipeline to meet the opportunities presented by the expected $10 billion Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park.

“The partnership combines the strengths of two global leaders — one of the world’s top high-tech manufacturing companies and one of the world’s top universities.” Rebecca Blank, University of Wisconsin-Madison chancellor

The Wisconsin State Journal contributed to this report.

“The partnership combines the strengths of two global leaders — one of the world’s top high-tech manufacturing companies and one of the world’s top universities."

Rebecca Blank, University of Wisconsin-Madison chancellor

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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