Expert Report: Mapping National Innovation Calls in 3 EU Countries (PEN-CP-2020-ER5)

Background and context

Traditionally, European customs administrations are responsible for interdiction of broad variety of illicit commodities and goods, such as illicit drugs, but are today becoming more sensitive to the need to detect security threats in goods. Many governments, in order to increase capability of technology and stimulate innovation, have been publishing national calls for innovation in technology, which set out a particular challenge and offer funding to encourage research for a specific purpose.  There have been considerable initiatives and developments in technologies for security applications in recent years, a number of which are used for areas such as aviation security.

The detection technologies used by customs play a vital role in supporting operations, but administrations have observed that there have been many advances in technology for the security field, while only little change within detection technologies specific to customs needs and requirements. Administrations feel that these innovations, while possibly designed for ‘one group of commodities not in customs focus’, might have a role in detecting a different commodity set for the customs environment; administrations thus becoming interested in expanding knowledge of the calls and those with the skills that participate in them. Although innovation calls run by customs themselves may be less frequent, it is desirable to have sight of them, too.


In table below, we present examples of ‘past innovation calls with potential customs security interest’.[1]

Funding type[2]


Name of the call

Launch date



X-ray backscatter imaging and X-ray radiographic system for analyzing suspicious items – DIRTACOS [3]

Year 2013


United Kingdom

Competition document: the future of aviation security [4]

8 December 2016



World Port Hackathon [5]

1 September 2017



Detecting faked photos and videos quickly and easily [6]

October 2018


United Kingdom

Detection and identification of illicit postal goods at UK borders: SBRI competition [7]

3 December 2018


United States

Tech to Protect Challenge [8]

6 January 2019


United States

The Opiod Detection Challenge [9]

27 February 2019



Security Innovation competition[10]

Year 2019

Funding project

United Kingdom

Competition: Innovative Research Call 2020 for Explosives and Weapons Detection [11]

Year 2020


This Expert report will identify and present a list of innovation calls in Sweden, Germany, and one Mediterranean country, proposed by the Expert. This mapping will be focused on calls launched by customs administrations, transport security agencies, other governmental agencies, or any other national funding agencies. The identified calls should have an impact on European Customs administrations, supporting them in better material discrimination and detection (can be both short-term & long run).

If selected to produce this Expert Report, you and/or your organisation will become well connected with PEN-CP, known as the ‘Novel Customs Innovation Boosting Network and On-line Platform, offering Valuable Innovation Intermediary Services’.  This networking could provide you for example with more visibility when PEN-CP organisations seek partners for future funding calls, including Horizon Europe.


Goal and scope for the Expert Report

The report is expected to create a baseline of which innovation calls have been launched in the selected countries. This baseline will be a valuable input for the PEN-CP project as it avoids overlapping of topics and provide insights of innovations and organisations who participated in the events. The results can also be used to establish a framework for a permanent monitoring system of innovation calls in the analysed countries.

The scope for information collection is the following:

  • The innovation calls must have a specific challenge associated to them (i.e., general funding for start-ups or SMEs without any challenge associated to it are out of scope in this Expert Report).
  • The calls can be those launched by customs administrations, any other governmental agency (such as police, border guards and forensics), or any other organisation (such as universities, non-profit organisations, etc), as long as they might be of interest for customs – the topics need to be related to the customs security, in particular aimed at identification of a particular good or material.
  • National funding[12] in Germany, Sweden and the selected Mediterranean country is included (e.g. EU funding, grants and tenders are out of scope in this study).
  • Time frame: national innovation calls launched between 2013 to 2020.[13]

The outcomes of the Expert Report will be presented and discussed in a broader PEN-CP web-meeting, once the report has been finalized.


Tasks to be carried out

The main tasks to be carried out are as follows:

  • Identify the websites where relevant agencies in the three countries publish their innovation calls.[14]
  • Collect detailed information on the past, and on-going calls, launched between years 2013 to 2020
  • Include indications on future calls (year 2021 onwards), if available.


Report structure, length and language

  • Chapter 1. Explain the overall approach and methodology for mapping and monitoring relevant innovation calls, on a country level. Include the following information:
    • All the relevant websites and other digital sources used to obtain the information.
    • Recommendations on how to collect the most relevant data.
    • Suggestion on the frequency to monitor each source in the future.
  • Chapter 2. Mapping of the year 2013-2020 innovation calls in Germany, Sweden and the selected Mediterranean country. The mapping should include the following items:
    • Name/ title of the call.
    • Explanation of the challenge attached to the call / problem the call is intending to address
    • Structure of the call (for example, indicate if it has a step-wise approach, where the first step is a proof-of-concept and the second step the funding of the prototype).
    • Website where the call is published.
    • Schedule and status of the call (for example: call currently open; work is on-going; project has been finished etc.)
    • Funding type in the call (for example: grant, prize, contract, etc).
    • Budget of the call.
    • Winner(s) of the call, if information available.
    • List of all organisations and individuals that participated in the call, if information available.

The Expert Report is expected to be 15-20 pages, plus possible annexes.

The language for the report is English.


Applicants and application process 

You can apply either as a natural person or as a legal entity (registered company with a VAT ID). In case you are a team of two natural persons, please identify clearly who is the main contact person for contractual purposes. It is also important to note that the call is announced in public and is open for anyone knowledgeable on the topic to apply. We may also approach potential experts by email.

The application process consists of following three steps:

  • Step 1: Applicant expresses his/her interest by sending an email to
  • Step 2: Applicant receives credentials by email (from PEN-CP) enabling the proposal submission
  • Step 3: Applicant submits the proposal (both technical and cv -sections)


Documents to submit 

Submit the following documents as part of your proposal here:


Submit proposal

  1. Technical proposal (max 2 pages)
    • Describe the methodology you will use to achieve the goal for this project
    • State a list of planned activities, with a respective time frame (please plan for project duration of three months)
    • Explain which Mediterranean country you would select and why (next to Sweden and Germany which are given)
    • List the main risks/limitations you foresee with the assignment, with a mitigation plan
  2. CVs of 1-2 experts who will carry out the work, highlighting their past experiences on similar topic(s).


Evaluation criteria and points (max 100 points in total)

  • Criteria 1: The quality of the methodology, project work and risk plan = max 60 points
  • Criteria 2: The relevant past experience of the 1-2 experts included in the proposal = max 40 points
  • Minimum threshold to be considered for selection: Criteria 1 = min 35 points; Criteria 2 = min 25 points


Evaluation and contract signing process

  • Step 1: Evaluation of all applications by scoring and ranking them.
  • Step 2: Selection of the applicant with the highest score and initiation of the contractual process.
  • Step 3: Communication with the non-selected applications of the evaluation results.
  • Step 4: Contracting with the selected applicant.
  • Step 5: Possibility to contact the unsuccessful applicant (if the contract cannot be closed with the selected applicant for a reason), to suggest contract negotiation (then follow with Step 4)


Dates, contacts and consulting fee

  • Call publication date: 8 December 2020
  • Deadline for proposal submission: 19 January 2021
  • Call results available (expected): 29 January 2021
  • Project start date: Latest on 1 March 2021
  • Project duration: Three months
  • Administrative contact person: Ms. Amrita Choudhary, ARTTIC;
  • Consulting fee: 5.900 EUR


Note: PEN-CP reserves rights to make updates on the dates listed above, in case no proposal reaches the minimum threshold.


[1] Note that the table with examples on past innovation calls is on purpose ‘not limited narrowly in customs detection -domain’; but it has bit broader coverage on ‘customs relevant security challenges’.

[2] Innovation call refers to any type of call that has a specific challenge attached to it. Funding types include: grant, procurement, prize, contract, subsidy, seed funding, donation, etc.










[12] Note that national funding rules may allow participation from other countries.

[13] Indications on future calls (year 2021 onwards) should be included, too, if information available.

[14] This data should help create a framework for a permanent monitoring system of innovation calls in the analysed countries.

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