The Honorable Maria Contreras-Sweet Joins Larta Institute as the Organization’s First Distinguished Fellow

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Former US SBA Administrator To Support Commercialization Efforts

Larta Institute announced today that the Honorable Maria Contreras-Sweet has joined the organization as its first-ever 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 the 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 more than two decades, 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 believe we have a strong national interest in maintaining our great country’s global leadership in scientific and technological innovation by ensuring that policies exist that can support these businesses while also giving them a runway to succeed,” said Administrator Contreras-Sweet. “I have a long-standing commitment to helping entrepreneurs realize their dreams and 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."

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 fund of funds, 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.

Earlier in her career, after realizing the need for funding to support diverse small businesses, Administrator Contreras-Sweet founded ProAmérica Bank, which finances small and mid-sized businesses for Latino entrepreneurs to ensure they have access to the technology and tools to effectively grow. Earlier, Administrator Contreras-Sweet was appointed by Governor Gray Davis to be Cabinet Secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency (BTH), overseeing 44,000 employees, a $14 billion budget, and 14 state departments.

“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.


About Larta Institute
Larta Institute, founded in Los Angeles in 1993, is an internationally recognized and mission-driven innovation accelerator that provides a runway of success for world-changing ideas in healthcare, agriculture and energy. Larta Institute and its subsidiary, Larta Inc., have helped more than 10,000 companies transform ideas into commercialized innovations that feed, fuel and heal the world. With a global network of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, industry leaders, research institutions, government agencies and support organizations, Larta conducts commercialization assistance programs throughout the U.S. and in more than 20 countries. Follow us on Twitter @LartaInstitute.

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