Foxconn, Data Science, Roche & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist

The collective eyes of Wisconsin’s business and technology communities are focused on a groundbreaking ceremony that Foxconn, a Taiwan-based electronics manufacturing giant, plans to hold Thursday at the site of its future electronic display production facility in the state’s southeastern corner.

President Donald Trump and other big-name politicians like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker reportedly plan to attend the ceremony, along with Foxconn chairman Terry Gou.

Foxconn and Wisconsin economic development officials have said the company will invest $10 billion to construct the plant, which could eventually employ up to 13,000 people. Foxconn will receive about $4 billion in tax credits and other economic incentives, provided it hits pre-determined investment and hiring targets.

Catch up on additional news involving Foxconn and some of the other companies and people that make up Wisconsin’s innovation ecosystem with these recent headlines:

—Foxconn plans to purchase a $30 million water recycling system that will allow it to “virtually eliminate” manufacturing wastewater from flowing into Lake Michigan by distilling the wastewater, the Associated Press reported. Foxconn’s screen-production facility is being built in the town of Mount Pleasant, which is located about five miles inland from the lake. The “zero liquid discharge” recycling system Foxconn said it plans to use will reduce the volume of water the company needs to draw from Lake Michigan to operate the plant, according to the AP report.

—The Milwaukee-based life insurance and financial services giant Northwestern Mutual said it and two universities in the city plan to invest nearly $40 million over the next five years to create a data science institute. Its mission will be to prepare the workforce of tomorrow through research and development projects, and boost the economic vibrancy of Milwaukee in the process.

The Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute will not be housed in a single location, but rather spread across a series of buildings and laboratories at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University, and the insurer’s corporate campus. Northwestern Mutual said it will contribute $15 million toward the institute by 2023, and the two universities will each contribute more than $12 million “in data science education and research” by existing faculty.

—Less than 24 hours after the California company Bird rolled out a fleet of 100 motorized scooters in downtown Milwaukee that people can rent using Bird’s smartphone app, Milwaukee Deputy City Attorney Adam Stephens wrote the company a letter asking Bird to “immediately remove all of the motorized scooters held out for rent on city sidewalks and streets,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Stephens wrote in the letter that Bird’s electronic scooters may not lawfully be operated on public streets and walkways, and anyone who rides one of the scooters could face a fine of nearly $100, according to the newspaper.

—General Electric (NYSE: GE) said it plans to spin out its GE Healthcare division as a separate company. Chicago-based GE Healthcare was previously headquartered in the Milwaukee area and has a reported 6,000 employees in Wisconsin. Turning GE Healthcare into a standalone business is part of a series of changes that give Boston-based GE a “clear path to reduce debt by $25 billion” by 2020, the company said.

—Roche Molecular Systems said it will close its facility in Madison and 79 of the company’s employees will lose their jobs as a result, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Pleasanton, CA-based Roche Molecular Diagnostics reportedly said the layoffs of Madison-based workers … Next Page »

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Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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