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Frequently asked questions


What’s the deadline for applying?

April 7, 2019

What information do I need to provide in my application?

We ask you for information about you, your idea, team and company. Don’t hold back, let us know how great you are.

What happens once I’ve applied?

Once you’ve submitted your details via our application form on L Marks’ Bridge platform, a member of the team will review your responses to confirm your suitability for the program. Our partner L Marks may be in touch to gather further details and answer any questions you have before your details are submitted to the AEP IlluminationLAB program committee for review. Up to 20 teams will be invited to attend the  IlluminationLAB Bootcamp, Pitch Day and Energy Illumination Summit.

I don’t live in the US, can I apply?

Of course! Companies, entrepreneurs and startups from around the globe are encouraged to apply. Bear in mind that you may need a visa to participate in activities in the United States. You will be required to travel to the USA during the program.

Is there a minimum age?

You must be at least 18 years old to enter AEP IlluminationLAB.

What is the process for applying?

We ask you for information about you, your idea, team and company in an online form. Click Apply Now! Our partner L Marks may be in touch to gather further details and answer any questions you have before your details are submitted to the IlluminationLAB program committee for review.


What type of products and/or solutions are you looking for?

We are particularly interested in products and/or solutions related to the renewable energy sources, smart connected devices, customer engagement, predictive analytics and virtual assessments. Please take a look at our Areas of Interest to read more about the categories of the LAB. If you have an idea that doesn’t quite fit any of those, but you still think it would work for us – send it through!

Who can participate?

Companies, entrepreneurs and startups from around the globe who are prepared to develop their products and services in collaboration with the IlluminationLAB partners for the benefit of their customers.

I’m not an energy business – can I still participate?

IlluminationLAB is not exclusively for energy businesses. We’re also interested in working with products and services that can apply to the energy industry. For example, if you have a great data analytics platform, you could work with us to see how it could help us to understand how our customers consume energy.

I have a good business idea – can I participate in IlluminationLAB?

Absolutely. IlluminationLAB is our innovation platform where great ideas are developed.

I’m quite an early-stage startup – am I right for IlluminationLAB?

We’re open to businesses of any stage of their development. If you are selected to participate, we will ensure the activities you take part in are tailored to your needs. If you feel that your business and products would benefit from the collaboration with the LAB partners we’d love to hear from you.

I’ve been in accelerators before and have customers – is this right for me?

We know that your needs will be very different from an early-stage business. That’s why we make sure that any mentoring or activities you’re involved in are tailored to your needs. Your time is precious and we won’t waste it. So long as you have an ambition to test out your product and ideas in IlluminationLAB, we can work together.

Do I need to give away equity to participate?

No, we do not ask for equity for participating in this program. However, we may ask you to keep us notified about future funding rounds.

Are you asking for exclusivity?

No, we’re not asking you to sign an exclusivity agreement. We want to build a relationship based on trust and, if we like each other, we hope that you’ll see us as the first port of call when you need feedback on your new products. Please be aware that we will ask you to sign a mutual non-disclosure agreement (NDA) which you will need to adhere to when working with other parties.

Will I need to disclose confidential information about my business?

If you are invited to join IlluminationLAB, we will ask you to sign a mutual non-disclosure agreement (NDA) – this means that we’ll keep your confidential information, and you’ll need to do the same for us. This will ensure we can work together productively on the program. However, when you’re applying to join, neither party will be under NDA, so please only share information about your product or business that you consider in the public domain.

What does the Bootcamp consist of?

The Bootcamp will be up to a one week program(exact timings to be confirmed) where up to 20 selected startups will receive training for the AEP IlluminationLAB. Programming for the week will ensure you and your team are set up for success going into Pitch day, where at the end, approximately teams will be selected to participate in the 10 week IlluminationLAB.

What are the terms of entry into the LAB?

Selected teams will be required to sign a Participation Agreement to join the program. This will be shared with teams invited to Pitch Day for early review.

Are you offering any travel support or assistance?

Travel support to participate in activities are at IlluminationLAB’s discretion.

If selected, what are the key dates I’ll need to be available?

At the very least we will require you to be onsite for the following dates and events:

  • May 6-10 (Bootcamp – exact dates to be confirmed)
  • May 14 (Internal Pitch Day)
  • May 15-16 (Illumination Energy Summit)
  • June 17-June 20 (Onboarding week)
  • July TBD (Midpoint Review)
  • September 13 (Demo Day)

What does the POC (proof of concept) phase of the program involve?

Over the ten weeks of the IlluminationLAB we will build on the initial use case you presented to the LAB during the Internal Pitch Day. The itinerary is designed to help you create game-changing products that will hopefully be implemented within the domains of the lab partners. Along the way you will receive essential guidance on key decisions in real-time from your mentors and other industry experts.

Is the IlluminationLAB like other accelerators?

We believe we are different. We’ll provide your business with opportunities to:

  • Trial your product with LAB partners
  • Receive mentoring from LAB partner leaders
  • Gain insights from subject matter experts through a top-notch education program

Has AEP run accelerator programs before?

  • AEP sponsored (co-sponsored) the Smart City Accelerator in 2017.
  • The City of Columbus won the U.S. Department of Transportation’s $40 Million Smart City Challenge in 2016.

Where is the IlluminationLAB?

AEP is located in Columbus, Ohio. The LAB will have designated space in one of AEP’s buildings.

Do I have to relocate to participate in the IlluminationLAB?

No, however we do require onsite attendance for a number of key dates. We can discuss one on one the needs of your company and the partnering resources of the LAB to see what would work best during the LAB timeframe.

Will the LAB Partners and/or L Marks invest in every company that joins the program?

We will decide which startups we invest in at the end of the program.

How many startups will be chosen for the IlluminationLAB?

We will aim to select approximately up to five startups to participate in the POC phase of the IlluminationLAB.

What are the upsides in joining the IlluminationLAB?

The IlluminationLAB enables startups to trial their products at scale, network with industry experts, receive mentoring from the leadership teams of the LAB Partners. By working with the LAB partners such in your industry sector, opportunities such as pilots, contracts, and further introductions are directly in line with this LAB’s mission.

Who is L Marks? What is their role in this accelerator?

L Marks is a corporate innovation specialist and early-stage investor. They build bridges between large corporates seeking to innovate more quickly with young companies with disruptive technologies, products and services. Founded in 2012 by serial entrepreneur Stuart Marks, they run bespoke start-up partnership programs across industry sectors, supporting rapid innovation and connecting them with the best start-ups.

They work with clients to identify where they believe the challenges are in their businesses and then turn these into opportunities for improvement and innovation. Each program is tailored to deliver real solutions to the corporate partners and create real opportunities for start-up to test and grow their product with a major partner.

Where will the mentors come from?

Mentors will include leaders and subject matter experts from the LAB partners, entrepreneurs and external subject matter experts. A full list of mentors will be announced in due course. Please see list of mentor bios for more information.

What does the day-to-day look like at the IlluminationLAB?

IlluminationLAB’s itinerary is designed to help you create game-changing products. You’ll accelerate your working to rapidly develop your product, receiving essential guidance on key decisions in real-time from your mentors. Each startup’s experience in the program will be unique – we tailor the mentoring and education programs to meet your business’s specific needs.