SOMERS — Better workplaces, better living and better travel are among the goals of a “smart city” initiative that Foxconn Technology Group and representatives from Wisconsin’s colleges and universities announced Thursday.
Foxconn is committing $1 million over the next three years to the “Smart City, Smart Future” initiative, which will start this fall with the goal of tapping talent at public and private universities and colleges.
The initiative will include a competition, which will offer winners and award recipients prizes, financial awards and technical support, in addition to a platform to attract investments to support them in bringing their ideas to life.
The competition will look for innovative ways to harness technology to enhance quality of life and working environments, inspire attractive streetscapes, transportation networks and living spaces, and promote sustainable economic and demographic growth.
More details are to be announced during a Smart Futures Summit planned for Aug. 7 at UW-Parkside.
The company is planning a formal groundbreaking for the $10 billion Foxconn Technology Group facility, which will be known as Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park, on June 28.
The groundbreaking site has not been finalized, but it will likely be at the same location as a recent ceremony held to mark the beginning of site preparation in Area I of the future project, which is benefiting from more than $4 billion in state and local tax incentives. It is expected to create about 13,000 jobs when completed and fully operational.
Alan Yeung, Foxconn director of U.S. strategic initiatives and president of FEWI Development Corp., announced the new initiative along with leaders from the University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Technical College System and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities — three key partners in the initiative. Those organizations represent a talent pipeline of more than 350,000 students, staff and faculty across Wisconsin.
“We’re doing this because we want to seek out the best ideas for smart, connected systems and cities throughout Wisconsin,” Yeung said.
Ideas for smart cities could vary throughout the state, Yeung said.
“If you live in La Crosse, Eau Claire or Green Bay, your concept, your idea for what a smart city or smart community may or may not be the same as those who live in Milwaukee, Madison, Racine and Kenosha,” he said.
Yeung said Foxconn wants to turn good ideas that well up during the competition into better ways of living, working and traveling. A smart city “first and foremost must be about jobs,” he said, adding it must strike a balance between sustainable economic and demographic growth.
Yeung said Foxconn wants ideas that can come in different formats including on paper, posters, videos and photo essays, business plans and social-venture plans. The subjects could be “smart” buildings, citizenship, energy, governance, healthcare, infrastructure mobility and technology.
UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford called the Smart City, Smart Future announcement “historic.”
“What should be truly transformational for students and faculty throughout Wisconsin is knowing that their ideas could be transformational in our communities for years and decades to come,” Ford said.
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