Heather MacNeill of the Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center (ECenter) recently talked with UNH Today about how donors help make the ECenter successful.
The ECenter is all about expanding the "entrepreneurial culture" at UNH. Can you explain what that means?
We aim to expand the ideas and innovation culture here. Our goal is to bring our programming and resources to all students at UNH — regardless of college or major — as well as alumni, faculty and staff, to expose them to idea creation and problem-solving.
How do students use the ECenter, and what are some programs you’ve hosted this past year?
We piloted the i2 Passport Program, which incentivizes students to attend pre-determined campus activities in return for credit/point value — the student with the most credits gets $8,000 to pay down their student loans, while those coming in second place can earn $3,500. A total of $19,500 in cash prizes was awarded to five students. We also piloted the Paid Student Internship at Start-ups Program, which allowed students to get hands-on experience working at a start-up company.
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Our development staff would be happy to work with you.
Are donors a big part of creating the entrepreneurial culture?
Absolutely. Donor support is crucial to what we do at the ECenter. Without donors, we would not be able to have some of our signature initiatives like the i2 Passport Program, the Summer Seed Grant program, paid internships at start-ups or the student-run makerspace. Donors make it possible for us to grow students into dreamers and believers and help them meet their potential to become idea-makers and builders.
What is your mission at the ECenter?
Our mission is to expose hundreds of UNH students to ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship; mentor those who have ideas; encourage those doubting their ability to innovate and problem-solve — across all colleges, schools and disciplines.
What’s ahead for the ECenter?
With donor support, we’ll continue the programs and initiatives I’ve mentioned above. Our goal for the future is to raise the quality of outside entrepreneurial experts coming to help work with students, help the non-entrepreneurial-thinking students start to understand how to create ideas, and increase options to help early funding of prototypes and momentum for great ideas.