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Foxconn considering skill building institute in India

Foxconn is mulling setting up a skill development centre in India, possibly similar to its Hon Hai Research Institute in Taiwan, as the contract manufacturing company is building an ecosystem to support expansion of its production base here, people aware of the plan told ET.

The idea was discussed by Andy Lee, the chief executive of its Foxtron electric vehicle venture, in the presence of Foxconn chairman Young Liu and a cluster of states at a meeting organised last month when Liu was visiting India, they said. Foxtron is also looking to manufacture EVs in India.

This matter came up during a discussion on India’s young population and the demographic dividend it offers, the country’s expanding EV ecosystem and the rapidly growing market, the people said.

“Foxconn mentioned that India and Brazil can be their next two growth centres,” a person directly aware of the developments said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “They said that since they were focusing so much on India from an EV perspective, they should explore setting up a university also in India, like they have in Taiwan, which is basically the vocational centres and the industry-academic correlation.”

Another person in the know said a Foxconn India spokesperson also spoke about building the ecosystem in India in another meeting that was held with industry bodies a few weeks ago.

“Foxconn said they will be building the skill and talent in the country required for manufacturing,” this person said. “That’s part of their overall game plan as their focus is definitely shifting to India. It is part of their plan to build skills as required for the expansion of their manufacturing base in India — whether it’s for EVs, semiconductors or electronics manufacturing.”

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Foxconn did not respond till press time Sunday to an email seeking comment.

In Taiwan, Foxconn’s home country, the Hon Hai Research Institute was established in 2020. The institute has five research centres for artificial intelligence, semiconductors, next-generation communications, information security and quantum computing.

“Each centre has an average of 40 high-technology R&D professionals, all of whom are focused on the research and development of new technologies, the strengthening of Foxconn’s technology and product innovation pipeline, efforts to support the group’s transformation from ‘brawn’ to ‘brains’, and the enhancement of the competitiveness of Foxconn’s ‘3+3’ strategy,” the company said on its website.

With the ongoing tension between Taiwan and China, Foxconn has been making a concerted effort to diversify its supply chain operations and India has firmly been on its radar with the company keen on building an ecosystem to support its ambitions. This skill development centre could be another step towards that, the people said.

“Young Liu meeting PM Modi is a big development,” foreign policy expert Sana Hashmi said. “It actually means that at the highest level, India is trying to court the Taiwanese company. Since the pandemic especially, the situation between China and Taiwan has become very fragile and there is a realisation that tomorrow, policies can change and be detrimental to their business interests so there is an understanding that these companies have to pull out of China as it is very uncertain.”

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