UPU Innovation Challenge: unlocking the power of AI

UPU Innovation Challenge unlocking the power of AI
May 29
 – May 31

Building on the success of the first edition in 2023, the UPU, in partnership with the European University Institute’s Centre for a Digital Society (CDS) and with the support of La Poste Group France, will host the second edition of the UPU Innovation Challenge in conjunction with the 32nd Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics.

A pioneering event at the forefront of technological innovation and industry advancement, the UPU Innovation Challenge will aim to harness the transformative power of artificial intelligence (AI) to tackle some of the most pressing challenges and unlock new opportunities within the postal sector and beyond. Participants, ranging from data scientists to industry professionals, will collaborate in an intensive problem-solving environment, utilizing vast datasets to develop AI-driven solutions that enhance operational efficiency, improve customer service, and advance digital inclusion, sustainable practices and regulation in the area of postal services.

Challenge participants will have an opportunity to access unique postal, aviation, and international trade datasets, curated from an expansive archive of tens of billions of records through the UPU’s big data systems, and made available exclusively for the purpose of this event. With the help of generative AI, the Innovation Challenge will unveil new, groundbreaking methods of data interaction, redefining participants’ engagement with this information, leveraging insights in ways never imagined before, and helping to craft solutions that challenge the status quo.

How you will make a difference

Each year, this collaborative event not only serves as a platform for innovation but also fosters a community of forward-thinking individuals committed to redefining the future of postal services. By leveraging AI technologies, the UPU Innovation Challenge 2024 will seek to uncover insights that can lead to more predictive and adaptive networks, improve last-mile delivery, and enhance customer engagement through personalized services. The outcomes are expected to set new benchmarks for the industry, demonstrating the critical role of data science and AI in shaping the next generation of postal and delivery solutions. Through this event, the UPU is demonstrating its commitment to embracing digital transformation and innovation to help the postal sector meet the evolving demands of the global digital economy.

 How to participate

To maximize potential for innovation and breakthrough solutions, we are looking for people who can actively tackle challenges.

There is a common misconception that such events are only for “techies”, developers, or people with extensive technical expertise.

While such profiles are important to tackle challenges and build solutions quickly, we need more than that: we need people who bring domain knowledge, a problem-solving attitude and a willingness to learn. Some solutions will not only require technology, but perhaps also new processes, training and new policy recommendations. We are looking for all sorts of expertise to come up with relevant, practical solutions.

Bringing together relevant stakeholders will help us tackle a variety of challenges. A good toolbox, including unique datasets and cutting-edge technology, a diverse team and a hard deadline – the UPU Innovation Challenge’s core components – will make up an excellent recipe for lasting innovation.

Unleash your creativity and join us in shaping the future of global communication and trade.

How it works

Before the Innovation Challenge (February to April 2024)

  1. Those interested in participating are invited to register by 25 April 2024 (register through the link on top of the page).
  2. The UPU and its partners will evaluate all applications and make a balanced selection, based on skills, affiliation, gender and geographical representation.
  3. The UPU will select and instruct a group of “mentors” to assist the participants.
  4. The UPU will publish an overview of challenges and the event programme in late April.

During the Innovation Challenge (29–31 May 2024)

Before attending the Innovation Challenge, each participant will be able to select a challenge to work on. This choice, together with additional details about their particular skills and experience, will help the organizing team assemble project groups in a way that benefits all participants.

The provisional programme will include [subject to change]:

29 May 2024 – Day 1

  • Opening
  • Presentation of challenges during the opening ceremony of the 32nd Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics

30 May 2024 – Day 2

  • Coffee
  • Team building
  • Working on challenges
  • Dinner

31 May 2024 – Day 3

  • Coffee
  • Working on challenges
  • Presentation of projects during the closing plenary of the 32nd Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics
  • Dinner

After the Innovation Challenge (May to September 2024)

  1. The results of the event, including the challenges tackled and the proposed solutions, will be communicated widely to the global postal community.
  2. The top projects of the Innovation Challenge will receive additional visibility and may be integrated with UPU technology used by postal operators.


Challenges stand at the core of this innovative event – they are the sparks that ignite solutions. We will work on real-life problems, taking into account existing needs and bottlenecks.

The UPU will solicit challenges from universities, international organizations, governments, regulators, postal companies, UPU-recognized associations and the private sector.


The Innovation Challenge is being organized by the UPU in partnership with the European University Institute’s Centre for a Digital Society, and with the support of La Poste Group France. The event counts on contributions from data partners, including the International Civil Aviation Organization
and the United Nations Statistics Division.

If you are interested in becoming a partner, please reach out to us at [email protected].

Support for participants

To encourage participation by developing countries, and subject to the availability of funds, fellowships may be granted. Participants from developing countries may be eligible to apply for a fellowship to cover the basic travel and accommodation expenses.

In awarding fellowships, the UPU will take account of gender balance, inclusion and diversity, and will give priority to applicants from the least developed countries and small island developing states.

Please contact us for more information.


For any questions, comments or suggestions, please reach out to [email protected].