Foxconn giving UW-Madison $100 million gift

Organizations launching new partnership

Foxconn chairman Terry Gou and UW-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank shake hands after signing an agreement.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:11 pm

Foxconn Technology Group and its founder Terry Gau plan to invest $100 million in engineering and innovation research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Foxconn chairman Terry Gou and UW-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank shake hands after signing the agreement.

During remarks in the lobby of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, Gou said the goal of the company’s donation is to fund and promote groundbreaking research in areas like healthcare, semiconductors, robotics, Industrial Internet of Things, data science and artificial intelligence.

“For such a bold vision to become reality, one must make an equally bold commitment,” Gou said in announcing the gift.

Most of Foxconn’s gift will go to a new interdisciplinary facility for the College of Engineering, replacing the current building at 1410 Engineering Drive. UW-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank told reporters the building still needs to be designed and a total cost is not known. The plan is for Foxconn to cover half of the cost and UW-Madison to cover the remainder.

“Thats the first and most defined piece of this sort of targeted sub-campaign and then we’ll see what else goes after that,” Blank said.

During her remarks, Blank announced the university is embarking on a $200 million sub campaign focused on engineering, data and computer science and human health. She said the end of that fundraising effort is about two years away but the hope is to make significant progress in the next several months.

The parties will also establish the Foxconn Institute for Research in Science and Technology or FIRST. The institute will have its main location in the Wisconn Valley Science & Technology Park in Mount Pleasant and will also have an off campus presence in Madison.

Louis Woo, Foxconn special assistant to Gou, said the company and university are still working on the details of what the institute’s presence will look like in Racine County.

“It’s a good problem to have to have to work out the difficulties of how do you set up a major research institute, “ Blank said. “This is right in the center lane of both what we do and what Foxconn is interested in collaborating with us on. We’ll let you know as we figure it out.”

The institute will support research and development initiatives in medical science, materials science, computer and data-driven science and other fields. Blank said the university brings expertise in basic scientific research while Foxconn is stronger in bringing products to market. She said the two sides have an agreement in place to determine who benefits from the outcome of these research efforts.

“This will differ a little bit by different types of projects, but the understanding is we will both have some ownership of the intellectual property,” she said.

Blank and Gou said a declaration of collaboration during the ceremony Monday morning and planned to sign a master collaboration agreement in the afternoon. She said those documents are “basically statements of intent” and do not need approval from the UW System Board of Regents.

“If we sign legal contracts, which at some point we will be doing, I need to go to the board of regents for permission for that,” Blank said.

Woo said the agreements have been in the works over the last year as Foxconn and UW-Madison officials have developed relationships. The university and Foxconn already have several signed memorandums of understanding in healthcare areas, Blank said.

She added Gou visited the campus earlier this summer, which is when the details of the master agreement started to come together.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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