The two research and development centers Foxconn Technology Group is opening in Wisconsin will not just be for technologies specifically being used by the multibillion-dollar Taiwanese company.
The R&D centers in Eau Claire and Green Bay have the potential to be shared by a number of organizations that are working on next-generation technologies, said C.P. Murdoch, senior manager of products at Foxconn Technology Group.
Murdoch expressed those ideas to a room of executives Thursday at a Wisconsin Tech Council event held at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Murdoch talked about Foxconn’s vision for its operations in Wisconsin, but specifically, shed some light on what could transpire inside Foxconn’s Green Bay office.
Foxconn this past fall closed on the purchase of The Watermark building in Green Bay, which is a six-story, 75,000-square-foot building that formerly housed H.C. Prange and Younkers at 301 N. Washington St. The building, called Foxconn’s Innovation Center in Green Bay, will house more than 200 Foxconn employees that are expected to work and focus on artificial intelligence, 5G cellular systems, 8,000-pixel, high-definition resolution and advanced manufacturing.
Plans for the Green Bay center are not yet finalized, Murdoch said. The project is “not far enough down the road” to concretely say what will be researched in Green Bay and the R&D center may be more focused on partnerships between the occupants.
The building could provide space for accelerator programs or an incubator program for startup companies from the region, Murdoch said. It could also offer space to startups that receive funding from the Milwaukee-based Wisconn Valley Venture Fund, a $100 million corporate venture fund being funded by a$25 million contributions each from Foxconn, Northwestern Mutual, Johnson Controls and Advocate Aurora Health. The venture capital fund will invest in early-stage startups, both domestic and international, working in health care, technology, manufacturing and financial services.
The Green Bay R&D center could also be used by companies in the region that want to place some of their employees in a collaborative space, Murdoch said.
During the event, Murdoch also touched on the potential of both Microsoft Corp. and Foxconn having a presence in Green Bay. Microsoft is partnering with the Green Bay Packers on TitletownTech, a venture that includes an incubator, an accelerator and a venture capital fund that will be housed in the Packer’s Titletown District, a 45-acre mixed-use development just west of Lambeau Field.
“There’s some interesting possibilities there,” Murdoch said.
For certain, though, is Foxconn’s intentional placement of its Green Bay office. Green Bay is the third-largest most populated city in Wisconsin and a presence there will help Foxconn to establish a talent pipeline and build a tech ecosystem across the state. Foxconn wants to recruit talent from UW-Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and other area colleges, Murdoch said.
The company has already held two hiring events in Green Bay, he said.
“You go where the talent is,” Murdoch said.―The Business Journals