Eric Smith

Director, Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

U.S. Department of Commerce

Eric blends technical, legal, and policy expertise with collaborative design to build inclusive innovation ecosystems in which entrepreneurs thrive and companies grow.  As Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) at the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), he manages OIE’s grant portfolio—$250+ million across 275+ grants and four programs—and manages the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), which advises the Commerce Secretary on accelerating innovation and catalyzing technology entrepreneurship.

A former computer scientist and lawyer, Eric began his career as in-house counsel in fintech before joining the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, focusing on technologies that power the Internet of Things and wireless infrastructure.  He joined OIE, helping build and evolve its programs through their first years with dedicated appropriations and designing operations and synthesizing policy for NACIE.

Before returning to EDA, Eric led digital transformation as the Chief Customer Officer of NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transition (SBIR/STTR) Programs.  Eric’s team of technologists and designers ran the software with which NASA manages $200 million in annual small business-led R&D.

Born and (mostly) raised and educated in Indiana and a member of the New York bar, he earned a J.D. from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and a B.S. in computer science and mathematics, along with a technical translation certificate in German, from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; he’s now dedicated to his adopted home of DC.  Outside of work, you’ll find him on long bike rides, amid overly-complicated cooking projects (ask about Big Noodle Club!), or traveling—and ideally combining all three.