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Call for Submission

PEN-CP Customs Innovation Awards

(PCIAs) 2020

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The PEN-CP Customs Innovation Award 2020 (PCIA-2020) has the following objectives:

  • To identify, to share and to learn from promising solution ideas, including out-of-the-box ones, across the two topics listed above.

  • To create new types of ‘innovation pipelines’ or ‘upscaling of innovations’, where raw ideas born with one type of innovation instrument (e.g. innovation award submissions) are taken further with other types of instruments (e.g. challenge competitions), in a step-by-step manner, towards fully operational solutions and services. 

  • To introduce and to promote new thinking and novel approaches for increasingly innovative Customs administrations in the future.

  • And, during this process, to have a bit of fun, too.



Innovation Awards Topics

Submission deadline


Old Alarm Clock

Submissions can be done by: 

(i) individual officers,

(ii) teams of officers,

(iii) full departments, and/or

(iv) the administration itself.

The Wall of Ideas

Send your submissions to:

PET 1 – Data and risk: Novel approaches to cope with the growing international e-commerce traffic (short version for public use)

In the wake of booming e-commerce, customs have recognised the need to rethink their conventional enforcement roles and strategies. This PEN-CP Customs Innovation Award 2020 (PCIA-2020) is about solution ideas that help customs to cope with the growing international e-commerce traffic. Interesting themes include capacity building, risk management, and cooperation with companies, authorities, and other partners. Below you find five examples of typical categories of solutions. You are welcome to expand the list below with other ideas that could help to change the landscape of e-commerce & customs.

  1. Collection of open source or additional data from e-commerce stakeholders.

  2. Vetting procedures of online merchants and green-lane initiatives. 

  3. Innovation and technologies supporting the automated threat detection.

  4. Exchange of risk-relevant information between enforcement authorities. 

  5. Improved targeting and control process. 


You can describe your solution idea by building on the 5-point list above; by combining them in a new manner; and/or by coming up with new approaches/ category of actions how to deal better with the growing e-commerce traffic and related challenges.


Please note that PCIA-2020 competition is open only for PEN-CP Customs partners. 

Shipping Boxes


Scientist Using Microscope


PET 3 – Laboratory equipment: Future opportunities with mobile laboratory capabilities  (short version for public use)

Customs administrations benefit from laboratory technologies that can be deployed at borders and that can be used by regular customs officers, as much as possible. Wide scale application of mobile technologies or even a frontline laboratory would allow customs to accelerate the identification of goods, reduce time and cost intensive off-site analysis, and streamline the overall customs control process. Customs may take an even greater advantage by adopting increasingly compact, user-friendly, and accurate laboratory instruments to extend frontline capabilities. Currently, Customs administrations deploy one or more of these technologies:

  • Colorimetric tests

  • RAMAN spectroscopy

  • X-Ray fluorescence (XRF)

  • Infrared spectroscopy (IR)

  • Ion mobility spectrometry (IMS)

  • Mass spectrometry (MS)

At the moment, under certain conditions, the technologies can be deployed on the field to identify a broad range of goods, including the following ones[1]:

  • Alcohol 

  • CITES (protected fauna and flora)

  • Consumer products (textiles, toys etc.)

  • Dual-use goods

  • Explosive materials 

  • Fuels

  • Narcotics (other than NPSs)

  • NPSs (new psychoactive substances) 

  • Pharmaceuticals

  • Precious metals 

  • Precursors for explosives and weapons

  • Precursors for narcotics

  • Radioactive and nuclear materials

  • Waste

  • Weapons and ammunitions 

The PEN-CP Customs Innovation Award 2020 looks for ideas on new mobile laboratory technologies that customs can use to identify goods at the borders or ideas on new applications for existing technology. In your submission, to the extent feasible, provide the name of a mobile technology, describe its operational principles, and explain how it can contribute to frontline customs controls, including which illicit materials it should target/ identify. If you opt to propose a combination of two or more mobile technologies, describe briefly how the full solution/ system works together. 

Please note that PCIA-2020 competition is open only for PEN-CP Customs partners.


[1] Adapted from the presentation of: (See page 11)

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