Economic Theory

£50,000 for your idea to supercharge growth in “left-behind” Britain


In the Media

Julian Jessop quoted by The Telegraph

In the Media

Christopher Snowdon writes for The Telegraph

The IEA is delighted to announce the launch of the fourth Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize, with Dehenna Davison, Member of Parliament for Bishop Auckland, on the judging panel.

In economic terms, the UK is two countries. On the one hand we have a prosperous enclave in London and the South East, with a high performing economy that compares favourably on measures such as GVA per person with the richest parts of Northern Europe.

But many towns and communities have witnessed decades of decline – made worse by the Coronavirus pandemic. They suffer from deep-seated problems, such as failing businesses, boarded up high streets, unemployment, and poor housing.

What can be done to re-energise these areas? What would it take to make them thrive?

The Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize 2020/21 is looking for answers. The topic of each year’s essay question is formulated in conjunction with a prominent British MP, who identifies a policy area which they passionately believe is in need of new ideas. The 2020/21 question, developed in collaboration with Dehenna Davison MP, is:

“In the current severe economic climate, what pro-market, pro-enterprise policy would be the best way of supercharging growth, employment and living standards in ‘left behind’ Britain?”

That policy must be both politically possible and compatible with a free market society.

Once again, the competition carries a first prize of £50,000 – plus additional prizes for highly commended entrants and students. And the winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony in central London, which will take place – pandemic permitting – next summer.

It’s the chance to win one of the biggest prizes of its kind – and the chance to have a significant impact on one of today’s major issues.

Commenting on the launch of the competition, Dehenna Davison, Member of Parliament for Bishop Auckland, said:

The Breakthrough Prize is a fantastic opportunity to influence one of the key political challenges our country faces – as well as winning a great prize. We have an exciting opportunity to promote pro-market ideas, especially on the Government’s plan for the Covid recovery, and I can’t wait to see the ideas brought forward.”

Richard Koch, Businessman, Author and Sponsor of the Prize, said: 

“Some policymakers are resigned to a North-South divide. They view it as inevitable – particularly in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. I disagree.    

“We can reverse the fortunes of our broken cities and regions. We can find ways to transform them into prosperous hubs replete with high wage, high productivity jobs.     

“My Breakthrough Prize, now in its fourth year, could provide an important starting point for popular ideas to supercharge growth, employment and living standards in those ‘left behind’ areas.  

“I’m looking for new, exciting, and radical free-market ways to tackle this burning issue – and I am optimistic that, as with previous years, we will find them.”  

Mark Littlewood, Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs said:

“Successive governments over the last few decades have failed to come up with effective solutions. This has manifested itself in repeated attempts to subsidise low-productivity industries – from car plants to the nuclear industry, Concorde, steel or shipbuilding.

“The Breakthrough Prize is a timely and important contribution to healing the growing economic divergence between different parts of the country, and to resolving an issue that is vital for our prosperity and society.”


Notes to Editors

Contact: Annabel Denham, Director of Communications, 07540770774

The competition has a two-stage entry process, with entrants initially expected to submit a short (500-1,000 word) précis of their breakthrough idea. The deadline for the first round is 12pm on 2nd March 2021.

Authors of the most compelling ideas will then be given feedback on their idea and asked to expand on it in order to submit an essay of 2,000-3,000 words, to be considered by the final judging panel. The deadline for the second round is 12pm on 5th May 2021.

For full details on the Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize 2020/21, please go to:

On the judging panel:

Dehenna Davison is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Bishop Auckland since the 2019 general election. Davison has been a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee since March 2020. She is also on the steering committee of the China Research Group, on the board of the Blue Collar Conservatives, and is a member of the parliamentary council of The Northern Policy Foundation.

Professor Syed Kamall is Academic and Research Director at the IEA and Professor of Politics and International Relations at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. From May 2005 to June 2019, he was a Conservative MEP for London. In London, he regularly met and worked with local community projects tackling poverty and social exclusion. He is currently setting up a microfinance project to offer online loans to entrepreneurs from poorer communities. Syed is also in discussions to set up a network of local charities and volunteers to help inspire and incubate more local community charities. He formerly worked as a strategy, public affairs and diversity consultant.

Richard Koch is a former management consultant, entrepreneur, and writer of several books on how to apply the Pareto principle (80/20 rule) in all walks of life. Richard has also used his concepts to make a fortune from several private equity investments made personally. Richard’s investments have included Filofax, Plymouth Gin, the Great Little Trading Company and Betfair. Previously he had been a consultant at Boston Consulting Group and later a partner at Bain and Company, before leaving to start management consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting with Jim Lawrence and Iain Evans.

Mark Littlewood is Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs and the IEA’s Ralph Harris Fellow. Mark also sits on the Board of Big Brother Watch, a non-profit organisation fighting for the protection of privacy and civil liberties in the UK. Mark is recognised as a powerful, engaging and articulate spokesman for free markets.

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