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Foxconn gives $100m to Wisconsin university to deepen US roots

Terry Gou follows up on factory investment with support for education

Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou speaks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which received a $100 million donation from the Taiwanese manufacturer. (Photo courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison)

TAIPEI -- Foxconn Technology Group on Monday said it will donate $100 million for engineering and research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, deepening the Taiwanese electronics maker's ties to the U.S. state where it is building a new factory.

The contribution by the iPhone assembler is one of the largest gifts in the school's history and it includes funding to help build a new interdisciplinary research facility at the university's campus in the Midwestern state of Wisconsin.

"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," Foxconn Chairman and CEO Terry Gou said in a press statement.

"This includes promoting a vibrant environment that nurtures and enables Wisconsin's talented workforce, allowing them to tap the immense opportunities that Wisconsin Valley has to offer," said Gou, referring to a vision of transforming the southeastern part of the state into a tech hub similar to Silicon Valley.

Hon Hai Precision Industry, as Foxconn is also known, broke ground in June on a $10 billion liquid-crystal-display factory in Wisconsin that the company says will create 13,000 middle-class jobs -- a key priority for U.S. President Donald Trump, who took part in the groundbreaking ceremony.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another Republican, tweeted that "The #FoxconnBonus is real, and the company is putting Wisconsin First. This is only the beginning!" echoing Trump's America First slogan.

Gou attended a press event on Monday for Foxconn's donation alongside with UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.

"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," Blank said in the press statement.

The collaboration with Foxconn is the largest industrial research partnership in the history of the university, she added.

The contract manufacturer and the university will establish the Foxconn Institute for Research in Science and Technology, which will serve as "a hub for technological innovation and provide an environment for research and development projects in medical science, materials science, computer and data-driven science, and other fields."

The institute will offer funding on developing practical applications in the fields on artificial intelligence, 8K resolution technology, the fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless network technology, and connectivity, according to Foxconn.

The partnership with UW-Madison will help build a talent pipeline to fill the jobs created by Foxconn in the coming years, according to the company.

Areas of potential study at the institute would also include, semiconductors, high-performance computing, cloud server storage, sensors and robotics --all of which are key to the industrial AI, an area of technology into which Foxconn seeks to push deeper as it tries to reduce its dependence on contract manufacturing.

The U.S. forms an important part of this strategy. In July, the Taiwanese company said it has set up a new AI company in Silicon Valley to lure talents there in order to improve its AI-infused industrial internet capabilities.

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