College News

UW-Madison researchers may receive payment through “cost-sharing” agreement with Foxconn

Some UW-Madison researchers may be compensated when working for the College of Engineering and Foxconn’s new collaborative institute by 2020.

Last month, Foxconn and the university began a partnership that would facilitate research and innovation within the community, starting with the Foxconn Institute for Research in Science and Technology for the College of Engineering. FIRST will be an all-encompassing hub to advance healthcare and data science.

The current agreements offer options of “cost sharing” in order to encourage new faculty members to join the new institution.

The current Foxconn partnership with the College of Engineering is not contractually bound, but instead a memorandum of understanding. The only binding aspect is the non-disclosure agreement ratified between UW-Madison and Foxconn.

“To date, five agreements around that collaboration have been signed. These agreements are similar to how we work with many other industry partners,” said Meredith Mcglone, UW-Madison’s director of news and media relations.

The necessity of maintaining confidentiality is written within their master cooperation agreement, highlighting the importance of mutually agreeing on any “publicity, press releases and other public statements.”

“The master cooperation agreement with Foxconn gives us this flexibility,” Mcglone said. “It benefits our faculty, staff and students as well as the overall university.” 

While evaluating the importance of their privacy, they agreed that “any financial, legal or business information or any technical information,” however transmitted, is subject to the same confidentiality terms.

This secretive nature has remained a consistent concern for the university’s Teaching Assistants’ Association as they disclose the mistreatment of employees and the endangerment of academic freedom.

“This arrangement directly threatens our university’s commitment to the Wisconsin Idea,” the TAA wrote in a statement. “The fruits of research at UW belong to the people of Wisconsin, not to a private corporation.”

They share similar worries as Democratic legislators, as they are concerned about Foxconn’s political agenda and environmental impact. They have also voiced opposition to the public investment of a private company, since Wisconsin offered Foxconn the “largest tax break to a foreign company in U.S. history” in order to bring them to the state.

UW-Madison has been working to develop a partnership with Foxconn since November 2017.

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