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EQ Office Unveils Student-Focused Incubator in Collaboration with UNLV

UNLV Incubator, Powered by Hughes Center, encourages entrepreneurship in hospitality, tech and gaming innovation.
a chair in a room
Designed by Las Vegas-based architecture firm EV&A, the Incubator is a 5,500-square-foot space within Hughes Center.

In a unique collaboration with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), EQ Office today unveiled the UNLV Incubator, a new student-focused incubation space located at Hughes Center.

A first for UNLV, this Incubator will bridge the gap between business ideation and its acceleration to realization. The three-step process of innovation:

  • Ideation. First, undergraduate and graduate students will develop their ideas through one of UNLV’s innovation classes, a thesis, or a research project.
  • Incubation. Students and recent graduates with promising ideas are then encouraged to apply to the Incubator. Accepted applicants will join a cohort and have access to the Incubator space, curriculum, technology, and a support network to help them refine their concept and business plan.
  • Acceleration: Students and researchers who develop their ideas in the Incubator are encouraged to apply to an accelerator program, where they will showcase their final or near-final product, network, and commercialize.

Las Vegas is a remarkably experiential place and huge consumer of innovation, particularly in hospitality, technology and gaming. We want to invest in this community, help attract and retain key talent in this region, while also expanding the start-up ecosystem,” said Lisa Picard, CEO, EQ Office. “By teaming up with leading universities like UNLV that are pushing the envelope in student-led innovation, we want to be a catalyst for job preparation, entrepreneurial training, and, importantly, business formation.”

Designed by Las Vegas-based architecture firm EV&A, the Incubator is a 5,500-square-foot space within Hughes Center, a 68-acre collaborative and innovative office campus in the heart of the city that EQ recently re-positioned to attract and empower Las Vegas’ top talent. In addition to the Incubator, the campus includes HC Social, an inviting tenant lounge and HC Oasis, a park situated in the center of the campus. Both were created to promote collaboration and ideas sharing. 

UNLV is an R1 research university – characterized by very high research activity – with William F. Harrah College of Hospitalitya top-rated hospitality college. The Incubator will leverage these prestigious research and academic programs to help UNLV’s diverse student body thrive in the world of entrepreneurship. Moreover, its placement at Hughes Center, just a few minutes from both UNLV and the Las Vegas Strip, will provide access to networking opportunities and job prospects. 

“Many brilliant ideas that emerge from students' minds each year have been shelved and left for someone else to re-invent because they don’t know how or don’t have the resources to bring their concepts to life,” said Robert Rippee, executive director of Black Fire Innovation and head of the Incubator program. “The Incubator is the solution for that in-between phase when students need to hone their business plans and design. Thanks to EQ’s vision, students now have a space to work on innovation projects, while also providing access to important entrepreneurial tools and programs.”

Additionally, Blackstone Charitable Foundation is welcoming UNLV into its LaunchPad network, an on-campus curated content and resource network that delivers experiential learning and entrepreneurship skill-building for students. There are more than 30 participating schools and 900,000 students with access to the LaunchPad network today.

“We are thrilled to partner with UNLV and EQ Office to bring a new Blackstone LaunchPad to UNLV students. With access to Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurial skill-building content, programs and networks, students can build a foundation for future career success,” said Erica Lock, vice president, Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “This collaboration represents the best of Blackstone LaunchPad: building an ecosystem committed to expanding opportunity and career mobility.”

This involvement complements Blackstone Real Estate’s long track record of investment in Las Vegas and Nevada. Blackstone Real Estate owns nearly $20 billion of real estate in Nevada, across major asset classes.

Hughes Center and its new Incubator is evidence of EQ’s investment in the Las Vegas community and aims to nurture talent and grow local skillsets -- both of which are at the core of EQ’s ESG program. For more information, pictures of the UNLV Incubator, Powered by Hughes Center, and to learn how to apply as a student, visit

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