The new Mays Innovation Research Center has an inaugural director: Mays Business School professor Korok Ray, who conceptualized the center as a place to discover how and when innovation occurs, then transfer that knowledge to Texas A&M University students.

Ray, an associate professor of accounting, will lead the center to provide research support to existing and new faculty members across the Texas A&M campus. It will bridge the research at Mays with that occurring in engineering, business, liberal arts, and other academic disciplines. The center will also fund Ph.D. fellowships and undergraduate research opportunities, and award prizes for outstanding research that advances the center’s mission.

Ray’s research interests are performance measurement, compensation, corporate governance, and cost allocation. He has taught accounting at Texas A&M University, the University of Chicago and Georgetown University, and earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University. He also served as the senior economist on the Council of Economic Advisers in the White House from 2007 to 2009.

Ray said he has experienced strong support for the concept. “Dean (Eli) Jones, The Texas A&M Foundation, and our donors have been outstanding in their support of this vision from the beginning,” he said. “I’m thrilled and honored to lead this center into new and uncharted territory, as the conversation on innovation unfolds both on our campus and nationally.  The center will engage students in research, support faculty, and pursue opportunities unique to Texas A&M, with its special combination of first-tier research and first-class values.”

The Mays innovation center intends to practice innovation beyond traditional university centers, which focus on teaching the history, theory, and practice of innovation. The Mays center is a research-oriented academic center that will engage in the study of innovation to advance knowledge in this important field. Mays Dean Eli Jones said the center will also host events, speakers, and programs that bring people together to best understand the true nature of innovation.

The center’s research agenda complements the educational mission of Texas A&M’s recently established School of Innovation, or I-School. “The combination of the center and the I-School will give the university a fantastic opportunity to be a leader in innovation,” said Andy Morriss, I-School dean.

The Mays Innovation Research Center was established in the summer of 2017 by commitments to the Texas A&M Foundation of $3 million from the Mays Family Foundation and $2.6 million from the Charles Koch Foundation. (Read previous story)

Research at the center will focus on how innovation advances human potential; the essential conditions necessary for innovation to flourish; how innovation spreads; and the social, economic and legal frameworks necessary to support innovation

Lowry Mays, the namesake of Mays Business School, said, “I’m interested in innovation and entrepreneurship because it gives students an opportunity to think about what they want to do and start putting together the groundwork for starting their own businesses.”

The Charles Koch Foundation supports students and scholars through academic grants and educational initiatives at more than 300 universities and colleges across the country.

Tyson Voelkel, president of the Texas A&M Foundation, said the center will help Texas A&M engage in the growing national conversation about entrepreneurship.

“Aggies have always sought to improve the well-being of individuals and societies,” he said. “Now, this center provides us with the perfect framework to study innovation and distribute this incredibly valuable information.”

(The Texas A&M Foundation contributed to this story)