The Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize shortlist announced

The Institute of Economic Affairs is delighted to announce the shortlist for the Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize. The prize – to tackle poverty – was launched in October 2016. The first prize of £50,000 will be awarded to the best and most innovative entry outlining a ‘Free-Market Breakthrough’ policy which would include a new idea that would improve the lives of the least fortunate third of the population in the UK.

In total 119 entries were received. 97 of these were from submitters based in the UK and 22 of them from other countries, including: Argentina, Australia, Singapore, Sweden, South Africa, USA and Ukraine.

Submissions were invited from individuals, groups of individuals, academia and corporate bodies such as consultancy firms, law firms and think-tanks.

Richard Koch – who is supporting the Prize – is a British author, speaker, investor, and a former management consultant and entrepreneur. He has written over twenty books on business and ideas, including The 80/20 Principle, which is about how to apply the Pareto principle in management and life.

Final five shortlist:

Syed Kamall MEP

Syed was elected as the leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, the third largest of 8 political groups in the European Parliament, in June 2014. He has represented London in the Parliament since 2005. Syed was born and grew up in London. He is married with two children at London schools. His policy idea relates to ‘friendly lending’.

James Tooley

James is professor of education policy at Newcastle University.  He is the author of The Beautiful Tree (Penguin), winner of the 2010 Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Prize, based on his ground-breaking research on low-cost private education. This research was awarded the gold prize in the first International Finance Corporation/Financial Times Private Sector Development Competition, and was profiled in an American PBS documentary alongside the work of Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus. Building on his research, Tooley has dedicated himself to creating models of innovative practice in low-cost private education. His policy idea is a chain of low cost private schools.

Ben Clements

Ben recently graduated from the University of Manchester after reading for a degree in Chinese and Japanese, with honours being placed in the First Class. Since completing his studies in the summer of 2016, Ben undertook a four-month scholarship placement as a scholar for the British Council as part of their Generation UK China campaign in the Chinese city of Tianjin to further enhance his Mandarin Chinese studies. He was also a finalist of the IEA’s pioneering Brexit Prize competition in 2014. His policy idea is ensuring ‘every child counts’.

Mark Feldner and Mathew Bonnon

Mark Feldner is a recent graduate with degrees in Law (BA, Cambridge) and Political Theory (MSc, LSE). He has gained work experience at several commercial law firms and has worked for the Cato Institute in Washington, DC as well as for the Austrian Trade Commission in London. Mathew Bonnon is in his final year studying Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. He has recently returned from his year abroad in Japan, where he studied at Doshisha University in Kyoto. Mathew has gained professional experience in law and consulting and has worked in various countries, including Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Germany. Their submission focuses on fiscal liberalisation.

Ryan Khurana

Ryan is a final year Politics, Philosophy, and Economics student at the University of Manchester. He is a member of the European Students for Liberty and has contributed to various student papers on topics such as Health Economics, Foreign Policy, Inequality and Poverty issues, and Political Discourse. His policy idea is related to a ‘freedom of housing act’.

Commenting on the release of the shortlist, Chairman of the judging panel, Jeremy Browne, said:

“Many of the Breakthrough Prize submissions contained innovative ideas for reducing welfare dependency, fostering entrepreneurialism or improving education outcomes. These are all fundamental to the future prosperity and harmony of our country and some of the best suggestions are featured in the final short-list of prize winners.”

Commenting on the release of the shortlist, Mark Littlewood, Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Free market policies have the potential to dramatically improve both economic and social outcomes for the greater good. Whilst the UK economy is performing well, living standards are not keeping apace. It’s high time to look at innovative ways to improve the lives of the least fortunate third of the population. These final five entries will be crucial in providing an intellectual backdrop for poverty alleviation in the UK.”

Judging panel:

  • Professor Philip Booth, Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham and Senior Academic Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

  • Jeremy Browne, Special Representative for the City of London to the EU; former Liberal Democrat MP (Chair)

  • Dr Steve Davies, Head of Education at the Institute of Economic Affairs

  • Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith, MP for Chingford and Woodford Green and former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

  • Professor Abby Hall-Blanco, Associate Professor of Economics, University Tampa

  • Rev. Richard Turnball, Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics

  • Baroness Alison Wolf, Sir Roy Griffiths Professor of Public Sector Management


Notes to editors:

  1. The IEA believes that we need to give serious consideration to how poverty can be alleviated in the UK. Competitors were asked to propose a single anti-poverty policy initiative which would have a major impact on:

    • Increasing economic prosperity and/or improve social outcomes for a substantial segment of the bottom third of the income distribution in the UK and other advanced economies.

    • Increasing the economic freedom of the population as a whole.




Submissions were requested of between 2,000 and 3,000 words.

For more detailed information about the remit and entry criteria please visit: www.breakthroughprize.org.uk

2. To arrange an interview about the IEA Breakthrough Prize, please contact Stephanie Lis, Director of Communications on 020 7799 8909 or 07766 221 268 or [email protected]

3. The prize will be announced at an awards dinner at a Central London location on 6th April. For more information please contact Stephanie Lis, as above.

4. Out of 119 entries, the judges initially shortlisted twenty candidates, from whom the final five were chosen. The full twenty finalists were:

  • Anton Howes and Julian F. Muller

  • Nathan Brown

  • John Bibby

  • Jordan Shopov

  • James Drace-Francis

  • Dusan Miljevic

  • Ryan Khurana

  • Colin Lloyd

  • Ben Clements

  • Mark Feldner and Mathew Bonnon

  • Vuk Vukovic

  • Roger Bass

  • Noah Law

  • Dan Gregory

  • Atanu Dey

  • James Tooley

  • Syed Kamall MEP

  • Raymond Kennedy

  • Jules Goddard

  • Edward Stringham


5. The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.

The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.