More than 250 Innovators Vie for $1M Lee Prize

Jul. 21, 2020


Entrepreneurs and innovators from 32 states, nine countries apply in global contest to help hospitality, entertainment, and travel industries recover from COVID-19 pandemic. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened in mid-March, casinos ceased operations, restaurants closed their doors, and tourism in Las Vegas halted. 

Faced with a global crisis, Greg and Ernest Lee of the Ted and Doris Lee Family Foundation sprang into action. In partnership with the UNLV Lee Business School, they created the $1 million Lee School Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to spark immediate, creative solutions to urgent issues facing the hospitality, entertainment, and travel industries resulting from COVID-19.

More than 250 applications from 32 states and nine countries were received by the competition’s July 5 deadline, and multiple investments totaling $1 million will be awarded this fall. 
“We are pleased with the response to the call for ideas,” said Leith Martin, executive director of UNLV’s Troesh Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “Spearheading the development of solutions is what universities do through research and education, so it only makes sense that we are part of this initiative that will help our city and the hospitality, entertainment, and travel industries recover.”

The Lee School Prize Committee will now review submissions and recommend ideas for funding. The committee is comprised of the deans of UNLV’s business, sciences, engineering and hospitality units, along with renowned industry experts.  Prize recipients will be announced in September.

When the winners are announced, the UNLV Troesh Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation within the Lee Business School will work with prize winners to develop and bring their concepts to an investor marketplace made up of leading corporations, private equity firms, and angel investors. Products and solutions must be brought to market within twelve months. 

Potential investors can contact the Troesh Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at For more information about the Lee School Prize visit

About the Lee Family 
Ted and Doris Lee, together with their sons, Greg and Ernest, have been active in the Las Vegas community since 1971. From real estate investment and development to operating casinos, hotels and restaurants, the Lee Family manages dozens of properties. The Ted and Doris Lee Family Foundation supports community projects in parks and recreation, intercollegiate athletics, education and the arts. In 2001, Ted and Doris Lee established the first endowed professorship in law at UNLV's Boyd School of Law. In 2011, The Lee Family Foundation gave a $15M donation to bolster business education at UNLV and the business college was formally renamed the Lee Business School at UNLV in honor of their support. 

About Eureka Casinos 
Eureka Casinos was founded by the Lee family in Las Vegas, NV. It operates a wide-ranging number of businesses, including Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite, NV. The Lee Family sold it to the employees in 2015 making it Nevada's first 100% employee-owned casino. For multiple years, Eureka has been named one of Fortune Magazine's 100 Best Medium Workplaces and a Great Place to Work-Certified™ company. Eureka Casinos also operates The Rising Star Sports Ranch in Mesquite, NV, as well as Eureka Las Vegas and The Brook, a casino in Seabrook, NH. The dedication of employee-owners to hard work extends to each and every guest and the communities they serve. 

About UNLV Lee Business School 
Established in 1967 as the College of Business, the now Lee Business School is one of the largest schools at UNLV with approximately 3,500 undergraduate students, 500 graduate students, and 100 faculty and staff and offers the only accredited business program in Southern Nevada. The school offers ten undergraduate majors, 14 minors and seven graduate degrees, including the MBA and Executive MBA programs. Lee Business School is among the top 5% of business colleges and schools worldwide to hold international dual accreditation in business and accounting by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the premier accrediting body for business and management education. In addition to its scholastic endeavors, Lee Business School is home to three centers that bring together faculty and students with business and industry. These include the Troesh Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER), and Lied Center for Real Estate. With more than 20,000 graduates, the Lee Business School Alumni Chapter is one of the largest alumni chapters on campus.