Customs Innovation Award: Novel approaches to cope with the growing international e-commerce traffic (PCIA-2020-PET-1)


Building on the 2019 legacy of PEN-CP Customs Innovation Awards (PCIA), we are happy to announce the PCIA competition for year 2020 (PCIA-2020). Opposite to 2019, when PEN-CP Customs partners were competing on existing and already implemented customs innovations, the focus of 2020 edition is on “Best Solution Ideas”. This means that “to the best of the knowledge of the individual/ team/ administration preparing a PCIA-2020 submission, the idea is not (yet) in operational use in customs”. Two of the three PEN-CP Expert Teams (PETs) have defined specific topics for their respective PCIA-tracks (see next pages for the details):

  • Data & risks (PET-1): Novel approaches to cope with the growing international e-commerce traffic
  • Laboratory equipment (PET-3): Future opportunities with mobile laboratory capabilities

In the frame (and spirit) of PEN-CP being ‘a Novel Customs Innovation Boosting Network and On-line Platform, offering Valuable Innovation Intermediary Services’, 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.

The calls are published on 27.10.2020, and the deadline for the submissions is 15.12.2020. The maximum number of submissions per PEN-CP Customs partner is 10 per PET-topic, i.e. 2x10 = 20 max submissions per Customs administration. Submissions can be done by (i) individual officers, (ii) teams of officers, (iii) full departments, and/or (iv) the administration itself. Each PEN-CP Customs partner should nominate the PCIA-2020 contact person, who collates all inputs from her/his administration, and makes the final submissions, on PET-level, directly on the PEN-CP online platform (via POP,

Each PET-team discusses and votes to decide the winning submissions, focusing particularly on the novelty value and potential impact of each submitted solution idea. Winners are announced and their submissions presented during PEN-CP Year 2 Annual Event (a web-conference in January 2021). The goal is that each winning solution idea will be followed up by one or more other PEN-CP Innovation Instruments, like hackathons, challenge competitions, prototype grants, etc. We also aim to offer large-scale visibility to the winning submissions - across PEN-CP community, in the EU and globally - via tweets, web-conferences, journal articles etc.

Please note that PCIA-2020 is open for all PEN-CP Customs partners, i.e. the 13 European Customs administrations forming part of the project consortium. In the future (years 2021 to 2023), PEN-CP plans to introduce similar innovation award competitions which are open for all EU27 customs, and/or for all WCO member administrations, to participate.

If you have any questions about the PCIA-2020 activity, please feel free to send an email to: the task leader:  and copy to:


Publicly available information on PET-1 call

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.

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