Foxconn will give the University of Wisconsin-Madison $100 million to fund science and technology research, officials from the university and the Taiwanese electronics company announced on Monday.
The contribution is among the largest in the university's history and marks UW-Madison's largest industry research partnership, said UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank.
A portion of the $100 million will go toward funding a new interdisciplinary research building located on the UW Engineering campus. UW and Foxconn plan to divide the cost of the new building evenly, and will determine how best to use any remaining funds, Blank told reporters.
The university plans to raise an additional $100 million to contribute to the Foxconn deal as part of its larger $3.2 billion fundraising campaign.
Through the agreement, signed Monday on the UW-Madison campus by Blank and Foxcon CEO Terry Gou, the company and university will partner to create the Foxconn Institute for Research in Science and Technology, or FIRST, which will host research and development initiatives in areas including medical science, materials science, computer science and data-driven science. The institute's primary location will be at the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park near Racine, with an off-campus location.
The partnership "combines the strengths of two global leaders," Blank said during a ceremony announcing the arrangement.
"We share a deep commitment to pushing the boundaries of knowledge through interdisciplinary research," she said.
Foxconn sees it self as a "major investor in Wisconsin" and a "long-term partner to the local community," Gou said.
Potential areas of study for students could include semiconductors, smart infrastructure and smart city development, sensors, robotics, medical imaging, genomics and immune cell researchers, officials said. The research opportunities would ideally prepare students for careers at Foxconn or other high-tech firms, Blank said.
"I think we see this as a long-term commitment to the state of Wisconsin," Foxconn executive Louis Woo told reporters.
The state of Wisconsin's deal with Foxconn is the largest subsidy to a foreign company in U.S. history. The company, best known for manufacturing Apple iPhones, has promised to invest $10 billion to build an LCD panel manufacturing plant that will create between 3,000 and 13,000 jobs. In exchange, the state will offer about $3 billion in refundable tax credits delivered on a "pay as you grow" basis tied to job creation and capital investment benchmarks. If the company fails to meet certain benchmarks, benefits may be clawed back.
Legislation paving the way for the deal was approved last year primarily along party lines, with just five Democrats — all of whom represent the area where the Foxconn campus will be built — joining Republicans in supporting it. Three Republicans opposed it.
Democratic lawmakers who opposed the deal raised questions last week about changing plans for the facility. Woo told BizTimes Milwaukee in June that the company will build a smaller factory than originally planned in its first phase of construction, but Foxconn executives have maintained that the company will hold up its contractual obligations.
Woo told reporters on Monday that the company's commitment to investing $10 billion and creating 13,000 "meaningful" jobs has not changed. Woo said criticisms of the company's plans come from a misunderstanding of its phased approach to construction.