UPU launches AI-focused Innovation Challenge amidst postal conference

The UPU opened its Innovation Challenge in Berne today in conjunction with the 32nd Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics.

The 2024 UPU Innovation Challenge calls on data scientists and industry professionals to harness the transformative power of artificial intelligence to tackle some of the most pressing challenges and unlock new opportunities within the postal sector and beyond. From May 29th to 31st, participants will analyse a number of specific challenges submitted by universities, international organizations, governments, regulators, postal companies, UPU-recognized associations and the private sector, presenting possible AI-based solutions. It is organized in partnership with the European University Institute’s (EUI) Centre for a Digital Society and with the support of La Poste Group France.

The UPU Innovation Challenge is taking place alongside the EUI’s 32nd Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics, an annual gathering of scholars, regulators and business operators. This marks the first year the conference is organized with the UPU at its headquarters.

Berne Mayor Alec von Graffenried opened the conference and Innovation Challenge, welcoming participants who travelled from near and far to the Swiss capital. “Berne is an international centre for the postal and delivery industry,” he said, adding that he was convinced the Innovation Challenge, coupled with the conference, would provide an excellent opportunity to “exchange, network and form new partnerships to strengthen the postal sector together.”

In his own opening remarks, UPU Director General Masahiko Metoki said, “Over the next few days, as we have done regularly over the last one hundred and fifty years of the UPU’s existence, we will engage in lively discussions, and explore new ways of collaborating that will shape the future of the postal sector – this vital vehicle for sustainable global commerce and digital economies.”

“In this new era of artificial intelligence, we will also reimagine the next generation of postal services, their economic model, and their regulation in a new edition of the UPU Innovation Challenge, which has once again attracted considerable attention and interest from around the world,” he added.

Director of EUI’s Centre for a Digital Society, Pier Luigi Parcu, followed the UPU Director General, highlighting how cross-pollination between the two events could support the week’s discussions.

Victor Glass, Professor of Professional Practice at Rutgers Business School in the United States, made final remarks to the conference’s opening session, emphasizing the high quality of research that would be discussed throughout the week and anticipating interesting results from the UPU Innovation Challenge to be presented at the end of the week.

The conference will discuss pertinent questions facing the postal industry, from changes to postal policy, the evolution of the universal service obligation and the optimization of postal services, to sustainability. The programme includes a regulatory roundtable, open to online participants, that will take place on 31 May.

UPU Innovation Challenge participants will pitch their solutions during the Conference’s closing on 31 May.

Learn more about the UPU Innovation Challenge

Learn more about the Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics

Register for the regulatory roundtable

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