$1 million prize for innovations to confront coronavirus in Las Vegas

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An exterior image of the Lee Business School at UNLV building.

Thu, Apr 30, 2020 (2 a.m.)

The Lee Business School at UNLV and the Ted and Doris Lee Family Foundation are looking for submissions for the Lee School Prize, an incentive program for entrepreneurs and innovators to come up with ideas to help bring Las Vegas out of the public health crisis.

It's just an example, but this is the kind of outside-the-box thinking that may help someone win up to $1 million to help in the coronavirus fight.

“If you’re in the business of training dogs, you are aware that in some parts of the world dogs are trained to smell malaria,” said Eureka Casinos Chief Operating Officer Andre Carrier, who helped set up the prize committee. “Can dogs be trained to smell COVID-19?”

The prize money will help bring an idea to market. Once a working prototype has been created, it will be pitched to investors “Shark Tank” style.

"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 in a statement.

The committee is made up of the deans at UNLV’s schools of business, science, engineering and hospitality, as well as some representatives of local industries who have not yet been announced.

They will determine who gets the $1 million in prize money, which could be split among multiple people.

The prize is focused on ideas serving industries that impact Las Vegas the most, such as hospitality, travel and sports. Carrier, for example, wondered aloud if there was a way to create a biodegradable, single-use hotel pillow to increase sanitation at hotels.

The core of the prize is “an invention that’s meaningful, that could have a practical impact on the confidence of hospitality and travel employees and the guests of those industries,” Carrier said. “Let’s get it funded, and let’s get it to market.”

“If we don’t reach the innovators, if we don’t reach the big minds who can solve this problem, this will all be for naught,” Carrier said. “We’re all in this together.”

The committee will take prize submissions from May 11 to July 5. For more information, click here.

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