Foxconn partners with University for $100 million tech center

By Clare Budin, Assistant Daytime Staff Report

The University is planning a center to develop smart technologies in partnership with the tech manufacturing company Foxconn.

The Center for Networked Intelligent Components and Environments is being planned as an addition on campus to the Grainger College of Engineering, which Foxconn chose for the partnership due to its ranking as the sixth-best engineering college in the United States.  

In a statement to Crain’s Chicago Business, the University announced that $50 million of the total funding will come from Foxconn Interconnect Technology, a division of Foxconn run by 1981 mechanical engineering alum Sidney Lu.

The other $50 million will come from the University’s long-planned Discovery Partners Institute, whose creation was initially proposed by former Gov. Bruce Rauner and supported by University President Timothy Killeen and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

DPI was proposed as a research facility in downtown Chicago to better connect Grainger with the Chicago economy and opportunities with companies in the city.

The partnership is considered a possible jumping-off point for DPI after current Gov. J.B. Pritzker stalled its development until the University could raise $500 million in private cash for the institute.

Today’s announcement suggests the institute will now have bases in both Chicago and Urbana.

Foxconn’s presence at the University already includes a space in the University’s Research Park, as well as Lu’s recent $21.5 million investment toward a five-story addition to the University’s mechanical engineering building.

Researchers from Foxconn Interconnect and the University will be working together at the new center to focus on research for a wide range of projects, including the interaction between humans and robots, new measurement techniques for nanoscale components, methods for capturing manufacturing data and new data-processing techniques in sensors.

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