A&R Partners starts clean-teach practice

SAN MATEO, CA: A&R Partners has launched a clean-technology practice. The agency is the latest to show a dedication to working with companies focused on using technology to benefit the environment.

SAN MATEO, CA: A&R Partners has launched a clean-technology practice. The agency is the latest to show a dedication to working with companies focused on using technology to benefit the environment.

While many firms are paying more attention to the burgeoning clean tech market, few have staff dedicated to it. Bob Angus, president and managing partner at San Mateo, CA-based A&R, said it took about a year to get the practice in place.

"I asked some employees what their passion was, and a few said they were really interested in environmental and energy issues," said Angus. "This felt right to us, because this is the soul of Silicon Valley. This is what has made this part of the world so vital. It's not about money; it's about passion and the entrepreneurial spirit."

So far, A&R has picked up four clean tech clients, including the California Clean Tech Open, a contest backed by Silicon Valley venture capitalists to identify promising clean tech business plans and startups.

More and more agencies are expressing interest in clean tech clients, particularly in the Northwest, where such startups are blossoming, thanks to a mix of young entrepreneurs and the popularity of environmentalism throughout the region.

The Cleantech Venture Network recently reported that a record $502 million in VC funding was investing in clean tech companies in Q4 2005, an 18% increase over Q3, and a 60% increase over Q4 2004.

Therefore, with so much money flowing to clean tech, it's little wonder that agencies, and other service providers, are taking notice.

But moving from IT to clean tech is not a simple step, warns Melody Haller, president and principal of San Francisco-based Antenna Group, who has been working with clean tech clients for several years.

"You can't come in with a me-too attitude," says Haller. "If you've done semiconductor work, don't assume you can just start working with clean tech clients. You need to get to know the communities," because the communities will certainly know how committed agencies truly are, or if they're jumping on the bandwagon.

"A number of us had a real passion for this," says Jonathan Bass, a director with A&R. "It was something we wanted to spend our time with."

As some elements of IT are becoming commoditized, people are looking for new uses for technology. And the rise of clean tech reflects a confluence of issues - social, political, and technological - added Bass.

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