The Spears Institute Within The Cox Innovation Triad

The Cox School is extremely fortunate to have three key institutions that will serve our efforts to meet new economic challenges worldwide. Having three entrepreneurship institutes, much less on the same campus, is a differentiator for the Cox School and SMU. This Innovation Triad is essentially an innovation hub through which SMU Cox is building an entrepreneurship ecosystem to support our innovation vision. It addresses three key elements of business education: curricula focused on why entrepreneurship and innovation are critical to the future of business, the make side of innovation focused on building new, marketable business ideas, and the buy side of innovation, or the building of new leaders in the world of entrepreneurial investments.


The Why Side

The Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship at SMU Cox, one of the nation’s oldest entrepreneurship centers, teaches our students why entrepreneurial thinking is so important to not only their careers but to the economy at large. The Cox School’s entrepreneurship programs, MBA Venture Fund, Blockchain Initiative, study abroad programs in places such as Berlin and Barcelona that expose students to new ways of thinking creatively and the Southwest Venture Forum are all ways our students learn how to be entrepreneurs, launching new businesses of their own or driving innovations inside their firms and organizations.

The Make Side

SMU Cox and SMU Lyle School of Engineering established the Hart Institute for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or HI-TIE, as a co-venture in 2019. Founded through the gracious support of Linda and Mitch Hart, HI-TIE provides SMU students with the opportunity to build and create new products and processes for the marketplace and develop business plans to determine how best to take these products to the world. It provides the perfect blend of engineering and business students working together to produce and commercialize new technologies, innovations and research.

The Buy Side

The Cox School’s new Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, founded in the spring of 2022 through a generous gift from Dr. William S. Spears, is designed to provide students with the talents to participate in the buy side of the new innovation economy, investing in university-driven R&D and building new pipelines for revenue. Similar to the Real Estate Impact Fund, this will create opportunities not only for students to invest in new ventures but also to generate earnings for the school to reinvest back into initiatives such as scholarships. It will also bring to Cox a world-class speaker series of business talent to help expand the dialogue. The Spears Institute will prepare students and create new ways for the school to invest in groundbreaking products and research.

As the newest branch of this critical Innovation Triad, the Spears Institute is still getting established, but in a rapidly evolving world, the timing couldn’t be better. Having the opportunity to learn all aspects of innovation will give our students a competitive edge that few business schools are positioned to give. Along with a curriculum that focuses on leadership, analytics and experiential learning, the Cox School is set to be a leader in business education innovation and entrepreneurship, preparing today’s students for the changing world of tomorrow.



The Innovation Triad provides the perfect blend of engineering and business students working together to produce and commercialize new technologies, innovations, and research

Matthew B. Myers, Cox School of Business Dean