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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

In August 2018, Foxconn pledged to invest $100 million in research and an engineering facility at UW-Madison, but the university reported only receiving $70,000 so far.

A year after Foxconn promised $100 million, UW-Madison sees $700,000

Just over a year ago, Foxconn Technology Group pledged a $100 million investment in science research and the creation of an engineering building at UW-Madison.

And yet, UW-Madison has received only $700,000 of that money, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Tuesday. 

There has been “no significant progress in discussions” relating to Foxconn’s $100 million pledge, UW-Madison spokesman John Lucas told the State Journal. So far, the $700,000 received has gone toward a sponsored engineering research project. 

The university announced the partnership with the Taiwanese company in August 2018, and Chancellor Rebecca Blank called it “one of the largest gifts in the history of the university.” 

The $100 million gift from Foxconn comes with a matching $100 million UW-Madison has to raise as part of a $200 million fundraising sub-campaign supporting engineering, data and computer science, as well as health research. 

Since announcing this collaboration, the joint projects between Foxconn and the UW System have encountered challenges. 

UW System leaders had to postpone a trip to Foxconn locations in China and Japan in fall 2018 because of scheduling conflicts, the State Journal reported. However, the trip has yet to be rescheduled. 

In February, a group of graduate students protested the Foxconn partnership, specifically the terms stating some types of research done at the new Foxconn institute will become intellectual property of the company, not the university or the individual. This group of students, calling themselves the “Foxhounds,” is still active today.

The company has also faced leadership shake-ups when Foxconn founder Terry Gou resigned to run for president of Taiwan earlier this year. And just last week, the company announced another key figure has left as Louis Woo, the executive who represented the company in Wisconsin, stepped down for personal reasons.

However, Foxconn has seen success in two programs at UW-Milwaukee. 

A study abroad internship program for engineering students allows UW-Milwaukee students to study language and culture at a university in Taiwan and spend time working at a Foxconn facility, the State Journal reported. Twelve students spent the spring semester in the program, and two seniors were offered jobs from the company.

Foxconn is looking to expand the number of students in the internship program and take it to other UW System campuses, UW-Milwaukee’s faculty lead for the internship, David Yu, told the State Journal. 

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This week, Foxconn also launched the second year of its “Smart Cities-Smart Futures” competition, which pledges money to winning ideas that promote creative city planning and sustainable energy practices. In the competition’s first year, members of campus communities sent in a total of 325 submissions from all across Wisconsin.

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