Fox­conn may in­vest in a Wis­con­sin ven­ture fund

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - BUSINESS - Rick Romell

Fox­conn Tech­nol­ogy Group is con­sid­er­ing in­vest­ment in a Wis­con­sin ven­ture fund that would pro­vide seed money to star­tups that de­velop com­mer­cial ap­pli­ca­tions based on the com­pany’s su­per-high-def­i­ni­tion dis­play pan­els.

“I’ve been in two or three meet­ings where that’s the spe­cific topic,” Tim Sheehy, pres­i­dent of the Metropoli­tan Mil­wau­kee As­so­ci­a­tion of Com­merce, said this week in an in­ter­view. He de­clined to say who lo­cally might be in­volved in such a fund.

Ear­lier, speak­ing Mon­day to mem­bers of the Greater Mil­wau­kee Com­mit­tee, Sheehy talked about the type of liq­uid crys­tal dis­play screens Fox­conn plans to man­u­fac­ture in an im­mense fac­tory to be built in Racine County, just east of I-94 in Mount Pleas­ant.

The screens will be “8K” res­o­lu­tion, with 16 times the num­ber of pix­els — the tiny dots that form im­ages on a tele­vi­sion or com­puter mon­i­tor — as are cur­rently de­ployed on high-def­i­ni­tion TVs.

Cou­pled with ul­tra-fast “5G” data net­works, which are ex­pected to start be­ing rolled out in the near fu­ture, the high-res­o­lu­tion screens prom­ise to have pro­found con­se­quences in fields such as medicine, man­u­fac­tur­ing and se­cu­rity, Sheehy said.

“You can put this in place and get fa­cial recog­ni­tion of ev­ery­body in Lam­beau Field in about 10 min­utes,” he told the GMC

group.

The “in­cred­i­ble breadth” of that tech­nol­ogy, in turn, will present en­trepreneurs in south­east­ern Wis­con­sin with op­por­tu­nity to dream up new, com­mer­cially vi­able ways to use it, Sheehy said.

“Fox­conn’s al­ready talked about in­vest­ing in a ven­ture fund here to get peo­ple to de­velop on their tech­nol­ogy plat­form,” he said.

A Fox­conn rep­re­sen­ta­tive wasn’t im­me­di­ately avail­able Tues­day to com­ment on the po­ten­tial for the com­pany to back a ven­ture fund.

But Sheehy in­di­cated that such a fund could ben­e­fit not just star­tups here, but Fox­conn as well, by widen­ing the ar­ray of uses for its screens.

Plans for Fox­conn to build what the com­pany now de­scribes as a 25-mil­lion-square­foot man­u­fac­tur­ing com­plex em­ploy­ing up to 13,000 peo­ple in Mount Pleas­ant are rolling for­ward.

Last week, Fox­conn Chair­man Terry Gou and Gov. Scott Walker signed a con­tract de­tail­ing the $3 bil­lion in state aid the com­pany stands to re­ceive, Fox­conn’s obli­ga­tions, and the guar­an­tees it and Gou are pledg­ing. Still to be signed is a con­tract be­tween the com­pany, Racine County and Mount Pleas­ant, which have said they will pro­vide $764 mil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing and other as­sis­tance for the project.

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