Officials and business leaders from both Wisconsin and Japan gathered Tuesday to celebrate the opening of an innovative new Kikkoman research facility in University Research Park.
Gov. Jim Doyle, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin and University Research Park Director Mark Bugher joined Gov. Akiko Domoto of the Japanese prefecture of Chiba and Kikkoman Chairman and CEO Yuzaburo Mogi to unveil the Kikkoman Research and Development Laboratory.
“Today we celebrate the combination of our vision to make the laboratory a reality,” Mogi said.
As the world’s largest producer of naturally brewed soy sauce, the 300-year-old Japanese company values the United States as its most important international market, according to Mogi. When looking for a location for the new lab, a partnership with the University Research Park appealed to Kikkoman business leaders as well as campus, city and state officials.
“This place is really the heart of economic development for the city of Madison, for Dane County and really, in a way, it’s the economic engine for the entire state,” Cieslewicz said of the research park.
Kikkoman’s new facility will utilize UW-Madison’s research in food science to explore flavor, functionality and fortification, dubbed by Domoto “the three F’s” of the company’s products. The company also has two other research and development centers operating in Singapore and the Netherlands.
Additionally, the Kikkoman Foundation is granting $100,000 in scholarships to students studying at UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
“The University Research Park is one of the crowning achievements of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s economic development activities and efforts,” Martin said. “The addition of Kikkoman USA Corporation is a marvelous opportunity for University of Wisconsin-Madison, the city and the state.”
The laboratory is the latest project in Kikkoman’s long partnership with the state of Wisconsin. As the first Japanese-owned manufacturing company in the United States, the company built its first facility outside of Japan in Walworth, Wis., 35 years ago.
“We consider 35 years a long time, but Kikkoman is a company whose history goes back to the 17th century,” Doyle said. “We hope for centuries to come we will be part of Kikkoman’s story.”