Passport to Innovation

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Ian Grant

In May, 2017, the Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center (ECenter) wrapped up the inaugural session of its innovative i2 Passport Program (short for Ideas and Innovation Passport Program.) The program is designed to encourage all UNH undergraduate students to engage and participate in activities and events in the areas of ideas, innovation, and entrepreneurship from all over campus. The most engaged students are rewarded with money to help pay off student loans or tuition. During the program, participating students are awarded “Visa Stamp Credits” for each identified activity or event they participate in. The student with the most Visa Stamp Credits at the end of the program wins the top prize, and all students who reach a minimum level of Visa Stamp Credits are entered into a drawing to receive additional prizes. All participants receive a certificate of “Idea, Innovation, and Entrepreneurial Fundamentals” so they can promote their co-curricular education on their resume.

The Pilot
The pilot i2 Passport Program kicked off in February, 2017 and students began collecting Visa Stamp Credits for things like attending ECenter organized bootcamps and seminars, visiting the Makerspace, participating in the UNH Holloway Competition, attending Entrepreneurship Club meetings, and more. At qualifying i2 Passport activities, the students could swipe their IDs at kiosks so that their Visa Stamp Credits could be tracked electronically and added to their total score. Weekly reports were sent to the participants with an updated leaderboard. One highlight of the semester was a keynote speaker event in April featuring Jeff Hoffman, a serial entrepreneur (Priceline, uBid, ColorJar) who shared his advice for starting a business and talked about his own experiences as a student entrepreneur. In another highlight of student engagement, 23 i2 Passport students applied for the Holloway Competition and i2 Passport students were members of three of the six final teams, including the first and second place winners.

The 1st annual i2 Passport Program concluded in May with a ceremony at the ECenter celebrating the student’s participation. At the ceremony, students received their i2 Passport certificates and the program winners were awarded the $19,500 in total prize money. The awards were announced and presented by ECenter director Ian Grant and by Harry Patten, ’58 whose generous gift to the ECenter funded the program.

The four categories of awards given to six different students were:

  • $8,000 for the most Visa Stamp Credits
    Winner: Peter Abdu, a senior electrical engineering major at the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. Peter earned an astounding 36,200 Visa Stamp Credits out of a possible 36,700
  • $3,500 drawing for first-generation students who reached 23,100 Visa Stamp Credits or higher (“Platinum Level”)
    Winner: Abby Kourafas, a junior business administration major with the Paul College of Business and Economics.
  • $3,500 drawing for any two students who reached 23,100 Visa Stamp Credits or higher (“Platinum Level”)
    Winners: Brady Camplin and Venus Chau. Brady is a junior bioengineering major with the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. Venus is a sophomore information systems and business analyst major with the Paul College of Business and Economics.
  • $500 UNH Bookstore gift card drawing for any two students who reached 7,000 Visa Stamp Credits or higher (“Silver Level”)
    Winners: Qiqi Chen and Jayson Folsom. Qiqi is a junior economics major with the Paul College of Business and Economics and Jayson is a freshman bioengineering major with the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

What the students are saying about i2 Passport:
“i2 Passport forced me to branch out. I participated in a number of things, none of which I would have participated in without the i2 Passport Program. Specifically, for my start-up Sol Solution, my team and I were awarded the Summer Seed Grant, first place in the Nelson Poster Competition, and second place in the Holloway Prize Competition,”
-Peter Abdu (first prize winner)

“This has been an amazing experience. As a first-generation student, it has been especially hard coming into college and knowing what you’re going to do when it comes to loans and your future career path, but i2 Passport and the ECenter have really opened up new doors for me to explore and see what I’m capable of.” 

-Abby Kourafas (first-generation student winner)

The ECenter is thrilled with the participation of the students during this pilot session of the i2 Passport program. We learned a lot through trial and error and we are excited to improve the program for the coming year. The upcoming i2 Passport Program will span both semesters of the 2017/2018 academic year and is already open for pre-registration.

Interested students can pre-register by emailing

 Ian Grant
Director, ECenter