LAS VEGAS—Trustees Greg and Ernest Lee of the Ted and Doris Lee Family Foundation have revealed the creation of the Lee School Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a joint collaboration with the Lee Business School at UNLV. Administered by the 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 and travel industries resulting from COVID-19. These technologies and solutions must ultimately make the industry safer for both guests and employees of the hospitality and travel sectors, which boasts roughly 330 million jobs and an economic impact of $8.9 trillion dollars worldwide.
“If Las Vegas is the world leader in hospitality and entertainment, then it must lead now in identifying the best practices and products to safely chart the way forward for guests and employees in the travel and hospitality industries,” said Greg Lee, former chairman of the UNLV Foundation and chairman/CEO of Eureka Casinos, the resort hotel company he built with his parents, Ted and Doris Lee. “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.”
The Lee School Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is accepting worldwide submissions open to individuals or companies until July 5. A committee composed of the deans of UNLV’s schools of Business, Science, Engineering and Hospitality, along with 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 School Prize.
“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,” said Marta Meana, UNLV president. “The Lee Family Foundation’s impetus and generosity in this venture is just the spark we needed.”
Prize winners will use the Lee School Prizes to develop and bring their concepts to a Shark Tank-like 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.