- American Electric Power (AEP) announced last week a partnership with innovation specialist L Marks to launch an accelerator focused on the utility sector and finding technology solutions to improve performance and customer experience.
- Dubbed the IlluminationLAB, the initiative will be based in Columbus, Ohio, focused on grid optimization, efficiency, customer experience and electrification. IlluminationLAB is listed online as a "bootcamp, energy summit, and 10-week proof of concept program wrapped into one" to accelerate startups within AEP by "collaborating on use cases and trialing products at scale."
- Applications to participate in the IlluminationLAB will be open to startups, entrepreneurs and businesses until March 24. According to AEP, "the most compelling" proposals will be given the chance to pitch their ideas to AEP executives and stakeholders in May.
As technological advances rapidly change the industry, utilities are looking to new kinds of partnerships in order to develop solutions aimed at grid integration and clean energy.
New York's REV-Connect experimented with new ways to connect utilities and market participants, seeking to cut down on extensive red tape. And New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's 76 West clean energy competition served as a four-year initiative to fund development in the state's southern tier.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy maintains a list of more than two dozen incubators and accelerators for buildings-related technology or projects.
AEP said its announcement is a "strategic initiative designed to identify innovative technology solutions" that can improve grid operations and customer satisfaction.
The lluminationLAB aims to "combine industry insight and learnings with the perspective and technologies of talented startups from around the world," Chris Johnson, director of enterprise innovation and technology for AEP, said in a statement.
He added the utility is "particularly interested in products and solutions focused on renewable energy resources, smart connected devices, customer engagement, predictive analytics and virtual assessments."
AEP said it is seeking a variety of solutions, including methods to understand consumer behavior and provide more proactive, personalized communications; grid optimization technologies that can address the impacts of distributed generation; and innovations to boost the adoption of electric mobility and reduce the costs for charging infrastructure.