October 18-20 | Tucson, AZ

The Research Institution GAP Fund and Accelerator Program Summit

Startup Accelerator the ‘Next Step’ in UNLV Evolution

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

The UNLV Office of Economic Development is launching the Black Fire Accelerator, a program dedicated to assisting early-stage companies and cultivating a more fertile and diverse entrepreneurial environment in Southern Nevada.

Partnering in the effort is Nevada’s first private incubator and accelerator, Las Vegas-based Zero Labs. The strategic advisory firm has assisted companies ranging in size from startups to Fortune 500 members, including Nevada-based hospitality giants Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International.

“Black Fire’s unique resource network, its lab environment, and direct access to UNLV will help the accelerator to push our entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem to a new level,” said Robert Rippee, executive director of UNLV’s Black Fire Innovation Hub.

The accelerator builds on the success of the UNLV Innovation Incubator Powered by Hughes Center and the university’s Black Fire Innovation, complementary business-development efforts that assist startups and existing companies. With offices respectively at the Hughes Center office park in the Las Vegas business district and the UNLV Harry Reid Research & Technology Park, the programs provide access to a variety of resources, including Black Fire Innovation’s 43,000 square-foot lab that simulates a modern integrated casino resort.

“The accelerator is the logical next step in building out the Office of Economic Development’s suite of tools to promote business development in the region,” said Zach Miles, UNLV senior associate vice president of economic development. “Companies and technologies that show commercial viability can now be accelerated and incubated through Zero Labs while having access to the physical infrastructure at Black Fire and the bright minds of UNLV.”

Too many promising companies “die on the vine” in Southern Nevada, Miles said, because founders fail to connect with resources that support early-stage companies, including access to funding, mentoring, and recruiting. He also said the accelerator can provide an entree to university assets, including the collaborative ecosystem at the UNLV Tech Park, which was recognized by the Urban Land Institute’s Nevada chapter as the state’s most catalytic place.

“We’ve certainly had some experience in venture building, and I’m excited to partner with UNLV,” said Zero Labs founder and Las Vegas entrepreneur Quinton Singleton. “I’ll headquarter Zero Labs at Black Fire with the goal to bring our ecosystem there and make it the hub for incubation and acceleration of private companies along with venture capital, focusing on gaming, hospitality and sports.”


Full story: Startup Accelerator the ‘Next Step’ in Evolution of Black Fire Innovation | University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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