About the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

The McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy has two pillars to its mandate: research and engagement. The center enables, analyzes and produces academic research on the role of entrepreneurship and innovation in the U.S. economy. It then translates this research into timely policy assessments and recommendations, and engages with public- and private-sector decision-makers to enable growth and prosperity.


The center’s research is data-driven, nonpartisan and policy relevant. The center’s director and scholars investigate issues in topic areas including entrepreneurship ecosystems, small business regulation, barriers to innovation and access to capital for entrepreneurs. Our research results in academic papers that are submitted to peer-reviewed journals, as well as issue briefs, policy reports and white papers.


Rice University students are an integral part of the McNair Center. Each semester, we offer experiential learning opportunities to approximately 25 students. These students are drawn from a wide range of disciplines and all levels of study. Baker Institute fellows and scholars, in conjunction with faculty members from top schools throughout the U.S., guide these research interns to create data, tools and other components of academic papers. They also provide mentoring and training to students to produce their own research papers and blog posts on entrepreneurship and innovation policy.

We make extensive use of interactive and collaborative technology. The center’s blog provides policymakers and the public with articles summarizing the latest research, practices and developments. Likewise, its online research platform provides academic researchers with a place to store and share tools and data, as well as a way to collaborate both with other researchers and with our students.

A Bridge Between the World of Ideas and the World of Action

McNair Center scholars and students translate academic research on entrepreneurship and innovation into actionable policy recommendations to promote economic growth. Its experts and director engage with and actively solicit recommendation needs from policymakers and industry leaders at the federal, state and local levels.

The McNair Center was founded with a generous gift from The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation in May 2015 and began operation in August 2015. Its experiential research program complements the experiential teaching program housed under the Rice Entrepreneurship Initiative. It works closely with the other Baker Institute centers and programs, as well as with the Jones Graduate School of Business, the School of Social Sciences and the Department of Economics at Rice University. The center currently has ongoing collaborations with researchers from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, among other institutions.