Black Fire Innovation is the debut research building at UNLV Tech Park

UNLV and Caesars open new incubator for integrated resort technology in Las Vegas

An eSports competition at the grand opening of Black Fire Innovation on Jan. 23. (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services)
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On Thursday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and a host of federal, state, and local officials joined leadership from Gardner Company, UNLV, and Caesars to cut the ribbon. Black Fire is a technology hub where new gaming and hospitality concepts will be created and tested in a 43,000 square-foot innovation space that includes elements of mock hotel rooms, a casino floor and sportsbook, an eSports studio, and virtual reality facilities.

Black Fire Innovation, UNLV’s new incubator space for integrated resort technology at the Harry Reid Research & Technology Park., gathered dignitaries last Thursday for the official opening and ribbon-cutting of the debut building at the UNLV Harry Reid Research & Technology Park in Las Vegas.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid —the research park’s namesake—, UNLV President Marta Meana, County Commissioner Michael Naft, Caesars Entertainment CEO Tony Rodio, Gardner Company leadership and others formally marked the completion of a building that will serve as a catalyst to unite business, stimulate research, and advance economic development efforts in Southern Nevada.

“The economic and academic benefits of the research park are strong,” said Gov. Sisolak. “Black Fire Innovation will create opportunities for collaboration between industry and academia that simply aren’t possible on many college campuses today.”

The four-story, 111,000 square-foot innovation building is the first project completed by Gardner Company as part of a master-planned development envisioned by UNLV, the UNLV Research Foundation, and Gardner for the tech park.

Caesars' CEO Tony Rodio, center, is joined by Gov. Steve Sisolak, left in tan coat, at the opening of Black Fire Innovation.

“Gardner Company is immensely proud to commemorate the completion of Building One in the UNLV Tech Park,” said Dan Stewart, partner and vice president of development at Gardner Company. “A campus of this magnitude will foster collaboration and innovation across businesses, UNLV students, innovators and entrepreneurs and will greatly help shape the research and innovation landscape here in Las Vegas and beyond. We are incredibly gracious for our partners and tenants who have allowed us to see our vision come to fruition.”

The centerpiece of the debut building is Black Fire Innovation, which brings UNLV and Caesars Entertainment, one of the world’s most diversified casino-entertainment providers, together in one space to advance current trends in hospitality and gaming technology. Black Fire is a technology hub where new gaming and hospitality concepts will be created and tested in a 43,000 square-foot innovation space that includes elements of mock hotel rooms, a casino floor and sportsbook, an esports studio, and virtual reality facilities.

“Black Fire Innovation, and the research park more broadly, exemplify the positive impact that can occur when the university and business community come together with a common goal,” said Zachary Miles, UNLV associate vice president for economic development and executive director of the UNLV Research Foundation. “The park and its related partnerships provide a gateway for companies to enter our regional business ecosystem, which elevates our research potential, offers unparalleled opportunities for our students, and in turn strengthens our economy.”

Through partnerships like Black Fire Innovation, the tech park serves as a proving ground for new ideas that will expand Southern Nevada’s leadership role in hospitality and gaming. It’s also attracting the world’s leading technology companies, who want to have a presence in the region and partner with industry leaders from Caesars Entertainment and UNLV.

"Caesars Entertainment has been at the forefront of gaming and innovation for many years,” said Caesars CEO Tony Rodio. "Collaborating in partnership with UNLV, one of the nation’s top gaming research institutions, is the perfect recipe for success. Black Fire Innovation is unprecedented, bringing together top researchers and industry experts in a unique and dynamic environment that enables emerging student talent, technology partners and the community to work together. Caesars strives to provide the best possible guest experience, as technology evolves its exciting that these types of advancements could be conceived and perfected at Black Fire.”

Black Fire Innovation sponsors include: Nutanix, LG, Aruba/ HPE, Interblock, Panasonic, Peerless-AV, Respawn, Allied Communications, Intel, Palo Alto Networks, Toto, Zoom, Breadwear, Losant, Minervaworks, and DreamlandXR. Panasonic is showcasing its video and display technology in the facility. There’s also office space for both Caesars and UNLV’s Office of Economic Development, whose mission is to attract industry-sponsored research, develop UNLV's intellectual property, and partner with companies and organizations to bring new products to market.

Managed and operated by Gardner Company in partnership with the UNLV Research Foundation, the UNLV Tech Park will serve as a high-tech economic base in Southern Nevada. It is designed to support collaboration between private sector and university researchers, creating partnerships that will solve challenges, grow new businesses, and attract existing ones.

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