LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — One of the biggest payouts on the Las Vegas Strip could come from your mind - not from a poker table or slot machine.
UNLV and partners are looking for a $1 million idea to help the valley Rebound from COVID-19.
What does superstar D.J. Steve Aoki have in common with Golden Knights owner Bill Foley? What about chef Wolfgang Puck and Raiders owner Mark Davis?
They're all innovators - always pushing the envelope, and they're part of what makes Las Vegas.
FINDING THE PATH FORWARD
"We have to take it upon ourselves in our industry and in this city to come up with ways to make it better ourselves. That has always been the place of great minds, great entrepreneurs, and great innovators. To find the ways necessary to give us the path forward," said Andre Carrier, chief operations officer of Eureka Casino.
TRYING TO LIGHT THAT FIRE
Carrier helped bring industry leaders together along with UNLV, as the University's Lee Business School is hosting the entrepreneur prize competition.
"What the prize is about is trying to light that fire, for someone to turn their attention, to take that really great mind and let me give you an inducement to think about our industry," Carrier said.
PUTTING UP $1 MILLION
The Lee Prize is putting up $1 million for ideas across the globe to help employees and guests feel safe as businesses reopen.
"If you designed a great mask that is just brilliantly part of somebody's uniform that looks friendly and not mysterious, you're an innovator," Carrier said. "If you are someone who has just come up with a great way to communicate with guests. You're an innovator."
PICKING THE BEST INNOVATIONS
Carrier says the goal is to pick the best innovations that quickly address the urgent problems facing the hospitality, entertainment, and travel industries as a result of COVID-19.
"The prize committee is made up of the very best minds to advocate for you. It is going to award you money - your seed capital," Carrier said.
After they've created a prototype of their ideas, competitors will face investors, private equity, and investment firms in a similar "Shark Tank" scenario, to see if they can help bring those products to market.
"If what you invented was a better way to clean a shuttle bus, a better way to clean an airplane and keep it on time, but the industry wasn't previously ready for it, they could be ready now," Carrier said.