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Welcome to Illumination Lab 

American Electric Power IlluminationLAB is a bootcamp, energy summit, and 10-week proof of concept program wrapped into one. Based at AEP headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, USA, the Lab will accelerate startups within AEP by collaborating on use cases and trialing products at scale

Applications are now closed

American electric power logo

Working with American Electric Power

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

  • a bootcamp where selected teams will work with AEP leaders to define a use case for potential collaboration,
  • an AEP-wide internal Pitch Day,
  • exposure at the Illumination Energy Summit, and
  • the opportunity to work with AEP mentors 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 be co-located at AEP offices in Columbus, Ohio and will access data, gather insights and aim to test their products/services in live customer environments.

What we offer

Dedicated mentorship from AEP leaders and subject matter experts.

A chance to develop your idea at scale in partnership with one 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 and/or L Marks.

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

American Electric Power will focus 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. At AEP 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. AEP is 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. AEP is now keen to find technologies available 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.


As a part of the IlluminationLAB, AEP is keen to unearth 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 AEP needs to know about we want to hear from you!


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