Robert Rippee

Job Title: Executive Director
Organization: UNLV Black Fire Innovation Hub & UNLV Incubator


Dr. Rippee is currently the Executive Director of UNLV’s Black Fire Innovation Hub and the UNLV Incubator powered by Hughes Center. Black Fire Innovation is a collaborative, synergistic environment designed to advance disruptive innovation in the hospitality, gaming, and entertainment industries. The newly opened UNLV Incubator powered by Hughes Center brings UNLV its first startup incubator. Before his selection as Executive Director for Black Fire Innovation, Dr. Rippee was Director of the Hospitality Innovation Lab and the esports Lab at the International Gaming Institute at UNLV. These highly acclaimed and successful center-based initiatives fostered early-stage student-led innovation and transition activities specifically within the hospitality, gaming, and entertainment sectors. Dr. Rippee attained his Ph.D. in Hotel Administration from UNLV in December 2020, researching consumer behavior and human learning in the context of innovation while simultaneously holding his full time-positions with UNLV. His dissertation is titled, A Nomological Analysis of Innovation in Higher Education and Industry. He has extensive research expertise in both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, innovation, and transitional activities. He is well known across the University for his interdisciplinary approach to innovation, providing lectures and mentoring student teams from engineering, business, hospitality, and architecture. He is frequently requested as the academic advisor by graduate students for independent research projects ranging from video game development to robotic process automation. His research has included game theory; the convergence of video gaming and gambling; human learning; innovation; and esports. He holds an MBA with a specialization in Operations Management from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business and an undergraduate degree in Finance from The University of Wyoming.

Dr. Rippee holds a long tenure in the private sector and joining UNLV culminating a senior executive with one of Las Vegas most well-known brands, Las Vegas Sands. His hospitality career spanned more than 25 years of innovation experience. He maintains a robust network of high-level contacts across venture capital, technology, and innovation development. He is also a Decorated Veteran, having served as a Pilot in the United States Navy. Dr Rippee is a resident of Henderson, NV with his wife.