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Panel Event on Capitol Hill Highlights Benefits of Diversity in Entrepreneurship

Washington, D.C. — March 8, 2018 — Rohit Shukla, Founder and CEO of the LA-based startup accelerator Larta Institute, joined a congressional hearing panel yesterday to discuss the importance of promoting diversity in entrepreneurship. Hosted by Larta and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the event focused on inclusivity for women and minority owned small businesses and startups in the U.S.

The panel kicked off with an introduction to the ITIF’s Demographics of Innovation in the United States Report and The National Academies of Sciences report, which found that woman and minority-owned small businesses receive less than 16 percent of all Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding awards. According to the data, although women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population and own 29-percent of businesses, they only earn six percent of SBIR awards.

“Diversity in background can create a business team that is cognitively diverse,” said Shukla.  “Each player offers a different method for approaching problems, often based on a combination of their past experiences, education, and cultural background.”

Shukla provided an overview of the SBIR program with emphasis on how the government can help increase diversity for the pool of chosen awardees. He also shared how Larta practices have supported minority and women entrepreneurs over the years.

“While our workforce becomes more diverse, the challenges we face as a society and as a species grow more challenging, and the companies best equipped to address these challenges are the ones whose teams engage and relentlessly pursue different perspectives,” says Shukla.

The panel was moderated by Stephen Ezell, Vice President of Global Innovation Policy at the Information and Innovation Foundation. Speaking alongside Shukla was Amy Millman, President of Spring Board Enterprises, RoseAnn Rosenthal, President and CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Javier Saade, Venture Partner at Fenway Summer Ventures and Karen Sorber, CEO of Micronic Technologies.

Sorber, an alumnae of two successful Larta commercialization programs, commented on the meeting by saying: “As the leader of an innovative science and technology company, I understand the challenges faced in growing complex businesses, and the value in facing them with a strong management team. In my experience, diverse teams are more resilient and creative.  We must support diversity in entrepreneurship, to seize opportunities in business and sharpen the nation’s entrepreneurial edge.”

The hearing was held at the Russell Senate Office Building in room 428A at 12:00 PM.