Competition seeks to fuel hospitality industry innovation amid pandemic

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LAS VEGAS — A competition is looking for entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry who can rapidly innovate to safeguard guests’ and employees’ well-being in the post-pandemic era.

Cleaning staff disinfecting elevator to avoid contagion. Stock photo. | Photo by Ivan Aragon Alonso, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Trustees Greg and Ernest Lee, of the Ted and Doris Lee Family Foundation announced this week the creation of the Lee School Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a joint collaboration with the Lee Business School at University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Greg Lee is CEO of Eureka Casinos, which operates the Eureka Resort in Mesquite, Nevada.

Administered by the Lee Business School, multiple prizes will be awarded as investments totaling $1 million to speed entrepreneurs in the development of innovations necessary to rapidly address the urgent problems facing the hospitality, entertainment or travel industries resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. These technologies and solutions must ultimately make the industry safer for both guests and employees of the hospitality or travel sectors, which boasts roughly 330 million jobs and an economic impact of $8.9 trillion worldwide.

“When the time is right, we must give the customer confidence that it is safe and desirable to travel again, dine again, stay again, and play again,” said Greg Lee, former chairman of the UNLV Foundation, who built Eureka Casinos with his parents, Ted and Doris.

The Lee School Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is accepting worldwide submissions open to individuals or companies until July 5. A committee comprised of the deans of UNLV’s schools of business, science, engineering and hospitality, along with renowned industry experts, will judge submissions and select prize recipients. The Troesh Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation within the Lee Business School will then prepare those entrepreneurs to accept investments from the Lee Prize.

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“If there was ever a crucial moment for the university and the business community to partner in search of innovative solutions, this is surely it,” UNLV President Marta Meana said.

Prize winners will then use the Lee School Prizes to develop and bring their concepts to an investor marketplace made up of leading corporations, private equity firms and angel investors. The Lee Family Foundation believes the pairing of innovators with industry leaders will speed up successful outcomes, allowing hospitality employees a safe and comfortable environment in which to work and give guests the ability to travel and seek entertainment with confidence. To assure this quick outcome, products and solutions must be brought to market within 12 months.

“Our world has been given a great challenge. It’s time for innovators, industry, and entrepreneurs to respond urgently, answer the bell, and deliver the ‘eureka’ moments that will invariably lay the bedrock for the new path forward,” Eureka Casinos COO Andre Carrier said.

For more information about the Lee School Prize, criteria or to submit a proposal, visit the prize website.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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