Foxconn is considering a capability-building institute in India

Foxconn is considering setting up a skills development center in India, possibly similar to the Hon Hai Research Institute in Taiwan, as the contract manufacturer builds an ecosystem to support expanding its manufacturing base here, people familiar with the plan told ET.

The idea was discussed by Andy Lee, chief executive of electric vehicle company Foxtron, in the presence of Foxconn chairman Young Liu and a group of states at a meeting organized last month when Liu visited India, they said. Foxtron also intends to manufacture electric vehicles in India.

The matter came up during a discussion about India’s young population and the demographic dividend it offers, the country’s expanding EV ecosystem and fast-growing market, the people said.

“Foxconn has mentioned that India and Brazil could be their next two growth hubs,” said a person directly aware of the developments, on condition of anonymity. “They said that since they focus so much on India from an EV perspective, they should look into establishing a university in India as well, like they have done in Taiwan, which is basically the vocational centers and the correlation between industry and academia are.”

Another person in the know said a Foxconn India spokesman also spoke about ecosystem building in India at another meeting held a few weeks ago with industry associations.

“Foxconn said they will build the skills and talent needed for manufacturing in the country,” said this person. “It’s part of their overall plan as their focus is definitely shifting to India. It is part of their plan to build capabilities needed to expand their manufacturing base in India – be it electric vehicles, semiconductors or electronics manufacturing.”

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Foxconn had not responded to an email requesting comment as of Sunday’s press time.

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

“Each center has an average of 40 high-tech R&D professionals, all dedicated to researching and developing new technologies, strengthening Foxconn’s technology and product innovation pipeline, and efforts to support the transformation of the group from ‘muscles’ to ‘brains’ and enhancing the competitiveness of Foxconn’s ‘3+3’ strategy,” the company said on its website.

Amid ongoing tensions between Taiwan and China, Foxconn has made a concerted effort to diversify its supply chains, and India has been firmly on its radar as the company is keen to build an ecosystem to support its ambitions. This skills development center could be another step in that direction, people said.

“Young Liu’s meeting with Prime Minister Modi is a big development,” said foreign policy expert Sana Hashmi. “It actually means that India is trying to woo the Taiwanese company at the highest level. Especially since the pandemic, the situation between China and Taiwan has become very fragile, and there is a realization that politics can change tomorrow and harm their business interests, so there is an understanding that these companies must withdraw from China, as this is very is insecure.”

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