Industry-Sponsored Research Week

A year later, Foxconn’s highly touted $100 million pledge to UW-Madison hasn’t materialized

By David Schwartz
Published: September 17th, 2019

Roughly a year since Foxconn Technology Group pledged $100 million to help fund campus research and build a new University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering building, the university said it has received only $700,000 — less than 1% of the original commitment.

While there has been some benefit to the partnership, like Foxconn’s “Smart Cities-Smart Futures” manufacturing competition and a Taiwan-based internship program, it’s far from the massive enterprise that drew both praise from economic developers and some criticism from those worried about corporate influence on research activity.

Citing changes in Foxconn’s leadership and business priorities, UW-Madison spokesman John Lucas reported “no significant progress in discussions” relating to the $100 million investment, heralded at the time as “the largest research partnership in the university’s history.”

Despite public statements citing the $100 million figure, Foxconn’s five-year master agreement with UW-Madison does not say how much the company plans to provide the university or when. In fact, the 12-page document does not even mention a dollar figure and instead notes the company “intends to make a substantial investment in research and other activities.”

“UW-Madison is hopeful that discussions will move forward in the coming months,” Lucas said,  adding that the $700,000 has gone toward a sponsored engineering research project.

Foxconn’s $100 million is designed to be a matching gift requiring the school to raise an equal amount. But Lucas said the university has not formally launched a matching initiative or fundraising sub-campaign for the Foxconn partnership because discussions with the company are ongoing.

An interdisciplinary manufacturing campus in Racine was also part of the investment plan, but the company didn’t respond to questions about whether it’s still on track to open next year, as originally scheduled. The partnership agreement said it would involved a minimum of 100 researchers.

The company said in a statement that it remains committed to engineering and research at UW-Madison and will continue to “develop the demonstration projects and the strategic plans to collaboratively formulate the interdisciplinary research and education” for students and faculty.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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