WARF head excited for relationships between Foxconn, higher ed

WARF Managing Director Erik Iverson says he’s excited at the prospect of new relationships between Foxconn and the state’s top higher ed institutions.

Iverson on Monday will address attendees of the Wisconsin Technology Summit, put on by the Wisconsin Technology Council.

This event gets smaller companies in the same room with representatives of major firms including Rockwell Automation, Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual, GE Healthcare, AT&T and new arrival Foxconn.

According to Iverson, many big companies like these already have strong relationships with Wisconsin’s major universities. He describes it as a feedback loop, with businesses telling schools what they need for further success and then getting updates and insight in return on the “amazing things being done on campus.”

He says a partnership like that between Foxconn, the UW System and Marquette University could answer pressing questions: What are Foxconn’s needs as a big, tech-driven employer in the state? And what kind of technologies could the universities supply?

Iverson says the universities can also provide new employees, novel business approaches and insight into environmental concerns.

Foxconn’s presence in southeastern Wisconsin could draw the attention of external venture capitalists, he says, as startups pop up to serve the company’s needs.

Much like the presence of Epic in the Madison area driving startups in the health care data space, he envisions Foxconn “gestating” a whole new area of business — with some companies serving Foxconn exclusively, and some with broader scope.

“Venture capitalists will say, `What are the companies being built that Foxconn is becoming a catalyst for?’” Iverson said.

Entrepreneurs attending the Tech Summit are getting “a very valuable opportunity” to navigate the ecosystem of big players, he added.

“The number one opportunity is networking — that’s what life is about,” Iverson said. “People you can reach out to for advice, for collaboration, for potential customers, feedback on a product or service… those kinds of things.”

The all-day Wisconsin Tech Summit is being held Monday at GE Healthcare in Waukesha. Other scheduled speakers include: Vivek Bhatt, CTO of GE Healthcare; Sujeet Chand, CTO of Rockwell Automation; Associate Vice Chancellor Phyllis King of UW-Milwaukee; and Rep. Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee.

See event details: http://wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/wisconsin-tech-summit/

See more on the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation: http://www.warf.org/

— By Alex Moe