The Honorable Maria Contreras-Sweet has joined Larta Institute as its first Distinguished Fellow to champion and advance the commercialization of science. She most recently served as the Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration and cabinet member of former President Barack Obama from 2014-2017.

As our inaugural Distinguished Fellow, Administrator Contreras-Sweet will contribute to Larta’s long history in supporting global innovators that feed, fuel and heal the world by leveraging her private and public-sector experience and insights in business acceleration, legislative issues, and inclusivity into the Larta expert network, while helping the organization continue to demonstrate the valuable economic impact of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. For over a decade, Larta has worked with thousands of SBIR recipients of federal agencies such as the National Institute of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation to turn start-up ideas and early-stage businesses into successful enterprises that positively impact our world.

“I have a long-standing commitment to helping entrepreneurs realize their dreams. With this new relationship with Larta Institute, I look forward to engaging more closely with an innovation-focused network that is helping the next generation of entrepreneurs commercialize to address the world’s greatest challenges,” said Administrator Contreras-Sweet.

Throughout her career as a trailblazing leader across business sectors, Administrator Contreras-Sweet has helped startups and small to mid-sized businesses manifest their entrepreneurial dreams.  In her most recent role at the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2014 to 2017, she oversaw the world’s largest seed fund, a $120 billion loan program, and a federal small-business contracting program that directed 23% of the federal spend to small businesses.

Maria Contreras-Sweet has long been an advocate for technology commercialization, equity and opportunity in emerging business, and her life’s work closely aligns with Larta’s mission to help accelerate innovations to market that can transform the world,” said Larta Institute CEO Rohit Shukla. “We look forward to Maria’s continuing contributions to small business, innovation and commercialization, and to working with her in the years ahead,” he said.