Samsung is bringing together South Carolina's two biggest universities — and sports rivals — to partner with the South Korean electronics company for research into home appliances.
The new Palmetto Consortium for Home Appliance Innovation was announced Friday at Samsung's new plant in Newberry, where washing machines should be coming off assembly lines next month, and 950 workers should be employed at the $380 million plant by 2020.
But Samsung doesn't only want to build washing machines and other premium appliances in Newberry, about 40 miles northwest of Columbia. It wants to make the plant a center for customer service and research and development with the help of the University of South Carolina and Clemson University.
"Our U.S. hub for every stage of the product lifestyle," said Samsung Electronics America's senior vice president for research and development, Dochul Choi.
Samsung said both universities should provide strong help in engineering and information technology.
Getting South Carolina's two biggest schools to work together with a major international company is a unique and important union, Gov. Henry McMaster said, flanked by the Clemson and the U.S. flag on one side and the South Korean, South Carolina and University of South Carolina flags on the other.
"This may be one of the few instances, Dr. Pastides and Dr. Clements, where you see the South Carolina flag and the Clemson flag both together and everybody's happy," McMaster said.
At Friday's announcement, University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides described a world where a robot takes laundry and washes it without human intervention.
"We're going to put the orange and the garnet laundry in together," Pastides said, mentioning the chief colors of the bitter rivals. "Now, it is going to come out separately: That's what a smart washing machine can do."
Clemson University President James Clements said his school is proud to add Samsung to its partnerships with companies around the world.