The winners of the Bracken Bower Prize, Ines Lee and Eileen Tipoe for ‘Failing the Class’ © FT Montage

Ines Lee and Eileen Tipoe have won the £15,000 Bracken Bower Prize with their proposal for a book about the future of higher education, Failing the Class.

The prize, first awarded in 2014 and supported by the Financial Times and McKinsey, goes to the best business book proposal by an author aged under 35.

Lee and Tipoe’s proposal argues that higher education’s “supposed ‘trade-off’ between career and character development is artificial: it is possible and actually vital for universities to serve a dual purpose”.

Lee and Tipoe are, respectively, a junior research fellow in economics at Homerton College, University of Cambridge, and a senior lecturer in economics at Queen Mary University of London. The judges praised their well-researched, well-organised proposal on an important issue.

Runners-up for the prize were Manuel Hepfer, with his proposal The Cybersecurity Wake-Up Call, about cyber crime, and Melissa Zhang, for Trailblazers, the story of seven changemakers fighting climate change.

The judges were looking for a proposal that provided a compelling and enjoyable insight into future trends in business, economics, finance or management.

This year’s panellists were: Jorma Ollila, former chair of Royal Dutch Shell and Nokia; Stephanie Frerich, executive editor at publisher Simon & Schuster; Isabel Fernandez-Mateo, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at London Business School; and Andrew Leon Hanna, who won the prize in 2018 and has recently signed an agreement with Cambridge University Press to publish a book based on his proposal, 25 Million Sparks, about the rise of entrepreneurs in refugee camps and cities.

Shortlisted authors win the right to take part in a masterclass with representatives from the publishing industry, who advise them on how to bring their business ideas to the bookshelves.

Last year’s winner was Stephen Boyle with his proposal New Money, about how central bank digital currencies could reshape the economy.

The Bracken Bower Prize has provided a platform for many younger authors to take their ideas all the way to publication. Jonathan Hillman won the 2019 Bracken Bower Prize with his proposal, entitled The Sinolarity, for a book about the battle between the US and China for control over the next generation of technology, recently published as The Digital Silk Road. Saadia Zahidi, the inaugural winner of the Bracken Bower Prize, saw Fifty Million Rising, a book based on her winning proposal, make the long list of the 2018 FT/McKinsey book award. Meltdown, by Chris Clearfield and András Tilcsik, who won the Bracken Bower Prize in 2015, received Canada’s National Business Book Award in 2019.

The prize, named after Brendan Bracken, former chair of the FT, and Marvin Bower, former managing director of McKinsey, was presented at the Business Book of the Year ceremony in London on December 1.

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