2015 Discovery Competition

Monday, October 5, 2015


Terri Zobel

What’s so special about New Hampshire?  There are so many “firsts” here.  Did you know that the first women’s magazine editor in the nation was Sarah Josepha Hale of Newport, New Hampshire and it was letters from Sarah to President Lincoln that inspired the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1863?  New Hampshire also boasts the ratification of the first-in-the-nation state constitution in Exeter in 1776.  And where was the first free public library?  In Peterborough, New Hampshire.  The first credit union to help mill workers save and borrow money was organized in Manchester, and the New Hampshire Legislature approved the first legal state lottery in the United States in 1963. 

Interesting indeed.  But when people think of “firsts” in New Hampshire, it is the first-in-the-nation presidential primary that comes to mind.  Speaking of the primary (and who isn’t these days) the political commentary regarding this upcoming election is integrated into the fabric of everyone’s lives here.  Who’s in town this week?  Bernie Sanders or Carly Fiorina?  Where are they speaking?  What does Hilary think?  How about Donald?  From coffee shops to town halls, these candidates are arriving to share their views and garner support.

It makes one ponder the myriad of ways that New Hampshire entrepreneurs benefit from the uniqueness of this first-in-the-nation presidential primary process.  This fall, all University of New Hampshire students will have an opportunity to find the intersection between creativity and the primary election at the first Discovery Competition hosted by the Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center on October 23-24. The inaugural Discovery Competition will call for students to create entrepreneurial concepts over a 24-hour period.  

Professors Andy Smith and Dante Scala will share their expert knowledge on the primary, and several folks from the business community that have benefited from the uniqueness of the NH primary will share their stories with the students.  There may even be an appearance by a campaign manager. Students will come up with their own ideas related to the primary, interact with prospective “customers” to get feedback on their ideas, and refine their concepts until they believe they have idealized the winning opportunity that could lead to revenue generation, a startup company, or positive social change. 

Kickoff of the first-in-the-University Discovery Competition is at 5 PM on Friday, October 23. Students will present their “campaign speeches” at 3 PM on Saturday, the 24th.  Voting (by the populace in attendance) will commence at 4 PM.  Prizes valued at $250, $100, and $50 will be awarded to the top three candidates. 

To register for the competition, visit http://innovation.unh.edu/2015-discovery-competition. The registration deadline is October 20th.


Terri Zobel,

Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center