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Robert Rippee, MBA, Ph.D.

Executive Director, UNLV Black Fire Innovation Hub & UNLV Incubator powered by Hughes Center

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Dr. Rippee is currently the Executive Director of UNLV's Black Fire Innovation Hub, as the visionary guide for teams of students, faculty, staff, and partner stakeholders in fulfilling the vision and mission for economic development and diversity through problem-solving based idea creation, innovation, acceleration, and commercialization. Black Fire Innovation Hub brings one of the nation's top research institutions to incubate and accelerate problem-solving innovation. Black Fire Innovation will create a collaborative, synergistic environment designed to advance student ideas, industry innovation projects, and economic development through advanced technology development.

Black Fire Innovation Hub is housed in a state-of-the-art research building at the UNLV Harry Reid Research & Technology Park, located in southwestern Las Vegas, a few miles from the main UNLV campus and additional facilities currently under development.

Dr. Rippee is the co-founder of two early-stage startups: one with innovative new technology for the wine industry currently holding a provisional patent; the second a startup using ultraviolet light as the basis for a hotel room sterilization device. He is also a Net Effect Ventures partner. NEV is a social-responsibility focused venture capital and consulting firm.

Dr. Rippee is the former Senior Vice President of Marketing for Las Vegas Sands Corporation, culminating in more than 25 years of innovation experience in development, hospitality, resort development, gaming, and a robust network of advisors and mentors across technology and hospitality and gaming. Before joining Las Vegas Sands, he served as Chief Marketing Officer for two significant resort land developers based on the East Coast.

Dr. Rippee attained his Ph.D. in Hotel Administration from UNLV in December 2020, researching consumer behavior and human learning in the context of innovation. He has extensive research expertise in both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. He is well known across the university. He is frequently requested as the academic advisor by graduate students for independent research projects ranging from video game development to robotic process automation. His research has included game theory, problem gaming, the convergence of gaming and gambling, human learning, innovation, and esports. He holds an MBA from the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business and an undergraduate degree in Finance from The University of Wyoming.

He is also a Decorated Veteran, having served as a pilot in the United States Navy. He is an avid bicyclist, both road and mountain. He is also an avid fitness practitioner.

Expert Areas

Hospitality, innovation, business development, technology start-up and Incubation, mobile applications, applied data science