Published on August 14th, 2020 📆 | 8242 Views ⚑0
Technology Incubators Fuel Startup Success on University Campuses
Visitors flock to Las Vegas for its glitzy resorts and casinos, stylish restaurants and vibrant entertainment and nightlife scene. In recent years, however, city leaders have recognized the need to expand beyond the appeal of a tourist destination.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Caesars Entertainment aim to do exactly that by launching a new, state-of-the-art innovation hub focused on developing the future of hospitality, entertainment and gaming.
Opened last fall, Black Fire Innovation is a 43,000-square-foot facility that includes two replica hotel rooms, a mock casino floor, an esports arena and a coworking space that will house an incubator for startups. Its goal is to explore emerging technologies, such as robots, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the Internet of Things, to create new products and services — all while providing an opportunity for students to gain valuable work experience with new technology, doing research for companies or even pursuing their own startups.
“This can be a great resource for the university and the community, not only to support startups and drive innovation, but to attract new companies into the region,” says Zach Miles, the university’s associate vice president for economic development. “Students can apply their academic learning to real-world projects for companies or take their own ideas all the way through the commercialization cycle.”
Black Fire joins a growing number of university-managed or affiliated innovation hubs, incubators and accelerators intended to create spaces for learning and innovating, while also providing startups with the guidance and support they need to build and grow their companies. These programs offer everything from coworking spaces, mentors and educational workshops to networking opportunities with potential investors and partners.
Beyond providing an avenue for students, faculty and startup founders to commercialize their inventions, incubators and accelerators also fuel economic growth and create jobs in their communities, says Sarfraz Mian, professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship at the State University of New York at Oswego.
These entrepreneurial programs typically provide startups with the IT infrastructure they need, such as Wi-Fi in coworking spaces. Some also provide access to special university facilities or equipment for them to develop their products, Mian says.