As states begin reopening after shutting down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, certain industries, such as hospitality, entertainment and travel, may not bounce immediately back until both guests and employees feel safe being close to one another again.
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Greg Lee, chairman and CEO of Eureka Casinos, is working with his family’s foundation and the Lee Business School at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to create a $1 million entrepreneur competition to find the next innovations that will provide solutions to these problems.
The Lee School Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a way to bridge the gap between reopening and re-engaging in travel, eating out at restaurants and staying in hotels, Andre Carrier, COO of Eureka Casinos, told Crunchbase News.
“There is someone out there who had an idea that was not right at the time or a company that has a product sitting on its shelf that could be innovative for the hospitality industry’s needs right now,” Carrier said.
Applications for the competition will open May 11 and close July 5, he said. Innovators who apply will be asked questions from a steering committee through August, and the winner, or winners, will be announced in the third quarter, Carrier said.
Prize winners will develop and bring their concepts to a “Shark Tank”-like investor marketplace made up of leading corporations, private equity firms and angel investors. In addition to the prize money, winners will be provided pro bono assistance with incorporating their business and/or securing intellectual property, he said.
“We feel this is a path forward to reopening as safely as possible,” Carrier said. “We are looking for the next best way to operate where employees are confident that best practices are being taken, while customers, fans and travelers are confident, too.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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