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Welcome to Illumination Lab 

The IlluminationLAB, from American Electric Power and EPRI is a bootcamp, energy summit, industry collaboration and 10-week proof of concept program wrapped into one. Based at AEP headquarters in Columbus, Ohio and EPRI headquarters in Palo Alto, CA, the Lab accelerates startups by collaborating on use cases and trialing products at scale. Utilities active in electric power sector innovation participate in the IlluminationLAB trials and speed the deployment of promising solutions.

Applications are now closed

American electric power logo

Working with American Electric Power

We are looking for startups that can work with AEP, EPRI and other participating utilities to co-create innovative existing energy products and services. The IlluminationLAB is your opportunity to get behind the scenes with a number of the largest electric utilities in the US. The program consists of:

  • a bootcamp where selected teams will work with AEP leaders and EPRI subject matter experts to define a use case for potential collaboration,
  • a Pitch Day at AEP including AEP internal staff, EPRI and the innovation leads from eight participating utilities,
  • exposure at the Illumination Energy Summit, and
  • the opportunity to work with AEP mentors, EPRI subject matter experts and other utility advisors for 10-weeks developing a POC if selected.

All companies accepted into the program will be provided with first-class mentorship and access to insights from leading subject matter experts in the energy sector.

Successful candidates will access data, gather insights, scope proof of concept trials and test their products/services in live customer environments.

What we offer

Dedicated mentorship from business unit leaders, subject matter experts and innovation team leads.

A chance to develop your idea at scale in partnership with a number of the largest energy providers in the US.

The opportunity to grow your network within global energy and utilities sectors at the Illumination Energy Summit.

Time to develop a relevant use case with senior stakeholders prior to Pitch Day.

Potential funding from AEP, L Marks and/or other utility and venture investors

Workspace in a state-of-the-art co-working space located in Columbus, Ohio.

Access to a wide pool of mentors and experts matched to your unique requirements.

Our mentors

The first class mentorship offered means successful startups will have the chance to learn from experienced subject matter experts, who will be on hand to help at the dedicated program office at AEP’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.

Ram Sastry

Vice President – Innovation and Technology

American Electric Power

Chris Johnson

Director – Enterprise Innovation and Technology

American Electric Power

Mark Berndt

Director – Business Development & Special Projects (AEP Ohio)

American Electric Power

John Schwarck

Manager – Strategic Partnerships and Technology/Investments

American Electric Power

Eric Wittine

Director – Customer Solutions Development

American Electric Power

Areas of interest

The Illumination LAB is focused on these key innovation challenges:

Customer Experience

Customers and their satisfaction lie at the core of any business. Communications with customers to provide them with accurate information to make informed energy choices are crucial to delivering a positive customer experience. Most communications between electric utilities and their customers are via bill and mobile applications focused on energy consumption, billing and outage information. As an industry, we want to be more proactive to better understand consumer behavior and provide personalized communications. If you have a technology that can help us better communicate with customers, let us know.

Grid Optimization

Today, customers are starting to generate and control their own electricity through renewable energy and storage. At the same time, utilities are responsible for managing a huge network of infrastructure designed to provide safe, reliable and affordable service for all customers. As a result of peaks in energy demand, the asset utilization rate is low on average, leading to customers bearing the costs of unused assets. We are now eager to find technologies that can cheaply control and/or shift energy peaks locally rather than across the entire grid and in turn benefit our customers financially.

Efficiency, Operations & Maintenance

The main focus of this category is to discover opportunities for transferring traditional Operations & Maintenance processes into a digital world as much as possible.

Digitizing these activities is also an opportunity to aggregate more accurate data (from customers, infrastructures and facilities) which can then be used to improve efficiency. To aid this we’re looking for solutions that can help the energy industry improve and supplement their existing data with new information and greater insights.

Electric Mobility & Electrification

New infrastructure is needed for charging, demand management, and grid stability. New mobility business models (shared, ride-hailing) are changing customer patterns of mobility and creating opportunities for new partnerships among OEMs, platform providers, utilities, governments and infrastructure providers. We want to work with technologies that are increasing the adoption of electric mobility by customers and reduce the costs for the infrastructure needed to support this adoption.


We are interested to discover new technologies we haven’t even thought of yet. We don’t know what we don’t know and the Wildcard category is for any startup that doesn’t fit into one of the areas above. If you think you have a relevant technology we should know about, we want to hear from you!


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American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio, is focused on building a smarter energy infrastructure and delivering new technologies and custom energy solutions to our customers. AEP’s more than 18,000 employees operate and maintain the nation’s largest electricity transmission system and more than 219,000 miles of distribution lines to efficiently deliver safe, reliable power to nearly 5.4 million regulated customers in 11 states. AEP also is one of the nation’s largest electricity producers with approximately 32,000 megawatts of diverse generating capacity, including more than 4,300 megawatts of renewable energy. AEP’s family of companies includes utilities AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana, east Texas and the Texas Panhandle). AEP also owns AEP Energy, AEP Energy Partners, AEP OnSite Partners and AEP Renewables, which provide innovative competitive energy solutions nationwide.

American Electric Power

L Marks is a leading advisor in applied innovation and experienced investor in early-stage technologies. Led by Stuart Marks and Daniel Saunders, L Marks has created the UK’s largest network of corporate accelerators and launched over fifty innovation programs across Europe, Israel, Japan and the US. Their unique approach and methodology is building bridges between large organizations seeking to innovate and young companies looking to scale.

They work with some of the world’s best-known brands, including BMW, Lloyd’s of London, Arsenal FC, and British Airways to identify business challenges and transform them into opportunities for growth. The L Marks collaborative, results-driven programs provide insight and access to startups whilst embedding their pioneering technologies into corporates to enhance operations, improve customer experience, and cultivate an entrepreneurial ethos across the business.

Through creating these relationships and experiences, L Marks is achieving rapid digital transformation across industry sectors and bringing about the future of business, today.

L Marks