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Grant boosts research development at UNLV

The University of Nevada Las Vegas’ new grant could help bolster student opportunities in the business world and entrepreneurship, along with increasing UNLV’s goal of becoming a top-tier research facility.

The recently awarded $255,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will create the UNLV Lean Entrepreneurship Advancement Program, offering students a chance to take their ideas and inventions to the marketplace.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our campus and for the business community,” said Andrew Hardin, associate dean for research in the Lee Business School and the lead at LEAP’s Innovation Corps site at the UNLV campus. “This funding will enable us to help people who are filing invention disclosures and patents move closer to commercialization more quickly.”

Hardin further explained that the training from LEAP will help students apply for more funding and training, along with developing prototypes and skills to do customer development. Harding stressed customer development because “they make great technology but don’t talk to enough customers before launching their business,” Hardin said.

“This helps them get feedback, develop if from there, and have a much better chance of success,” he added.

The funding will be spread across the next three years, and all student and faculty researchers are eligible to apply. Each team will receive as much as $3,000. A committee of UNLV faculty and staff, along with members from the business community, will choose where funding is placed.

According to researchers, the goal is to “strengthen innovation locally and regionally and to create an atmosphere where mentors, researcher, entrepreneurs and investors can flourish.”

Leadership will not only be targeting business, sciences, health sciences, hospitality and engineering, but all disciplines across the university.

Each team will have an entrepreneurial lead — a student, post-doctoral researcher or a staff member. The team also will include an academic lead, a faculty member, who will act on future proposals or submissions to NSF. There will also be an experienced mentor, secured through the team or LEAP assistance, who has industry-relevant experience.

Applications will become available in April, and training will be provided through several avenues including workshops and courses through Lee Business School. The program will be supported by UNLV Center for Entrepreneurship, the Mendenhall Innovation Program, the Division of Research and Economic Development and the Nevada Small Business Development Center.

SBA Emerging Leaders program expands to Las Vegas

Las Vegas is one of 51 cities enabled to participate in the Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders executive-level training series in 2016. The program is a federal training initiative that focuses on executives of businesses poised for growth and are in historically challenged communities.

“The SBA’s expansion of Emerging Leaders last year to over 20 new locations made this invaluable training accessible to more entrepreneurs than ever before,” SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said. “The training, mentorship and resources that these small business owners receive help them take their enterprises to the next level, spurring business growth, job creation and stronger communities.”

The local office is offering participation in the program to small business owners and executives whose operations have an annual revenue of $400,000 or higher, have been in business at least three years and have one employee other than themselves.

The applications process is open, and classes for the SBA’s seven-month program begin in April. Participants must commit to 100 hours of instruction across 13 bi-weekly, in-person sessions. Classes will be held locally and allow participants to work with experienced mentors, attend workshops and develop connections with their peers, along with city leaders and financial communities.

Applications for the Las Vegas sessions can be found at interise.org/sbaemergingleaders or at the local Las Vegas SBA office at 300 S. Fourth Street, Ste. 400.

Downtown Grand embraces non-gaming gaming

The Downtown Grand Las Vegas will host the Wargaming.net League North America Season 2, 2016 Regional Finals for the video game World of Tanks on Feb. 27 as part of a larger effort to expand attractions for a millennial crowd and business efforts in the eSport industry.

The upcoming championship eSports tournament will feature four teams competing at the Grand. Players will compete for a first prize of $75,000, and attendees will get an opportunity to connect with WGLNA’s pro-gamers at the free-to-the-public event. The doors open at 12:45 p.m. in the Grand’s Fremont Room.

Events leading up to the finals will be broadcast every Tuesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. on the WGLNA website (wglna.com). The championship at the Grand will be streamed live at battleviewer.com on Feb. 27 at 1 p.m.

The Grand started mending connections in the eSports industry in late 2015 with an agreement to offer the LA Renegades, an Australian eSports team, a two-month residency. The team used the hotel’s private practice room to train for competitions, along with hosting meet-and-greets and exhibition tournament events.

The sport as a whole generated $215 million across western Europe and the United States of the nearly $784 million total in 2015 according to a report by Superdata, a research website. The industry in Asia, where the sport originated, collected $374 million in 2015, according to the report.

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