Mehran Gul
Mehran Gul, winner of the Bracken Bower Prize 2017

The winner of last year’s Financial Times and McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize for young authors has struck deals worth well over $100,000 in five countries for a book based on his award-winning proposal.

Mehran Gul, 33, aims to publish the book, which will chart the rise of technology innovation hubs outside the US, in the second half of 2019. He joins a growing group of finalists for the £15,000 Bracken Bower Prize who have gone on to achieve publishing success with their book proposals.

Following a competitive auction, William Collins, part of HarperCollins, bought the UK rights to the book, whose working title, like that of the original proposal, is The New Geography of Innovation. Simon and Schuster has acquired the US rights. Mr Gul has also sold the rights in Japan, China and South Korea, and is negotiating with publishers in Taiwan, Italy and other countries.

Mr Gul, who works for the World Economic Forum as lead for digital transformation of industries, says the book brings together the themes of technology, entrepreneurship and globalisation. It will ask the question “what do different innovation cultures look like and how is that going to feed competition in the future?”

He now intends to travel to Japan, Singapore, China, India, Israel, Sweden and South Africa, among other countries, to complete research into different “innovation hives” that are fostering start-ups and new technologies. “The locus of innovation in technology and its applications in business is shifting from the US and being distributed much more widely around the world,” Mr Gul wrote in an extract from his original proposal, published on

The title of Mr Gul’s proposal is likely to change before publication, though it may survive as the subtitle. “Publishers prefer one-word titles,” he said. The exact value of the publishing deals has not been specified but runs “well into six figures”, according to the prize organisers.

Mr Gul described the Bracken Bower Prize as “an incredible launch pad” for his book. Among other books born from the prize are two published this year: Fifty Million Rising by Saadia Zahidi, winner of the first prize in 2014, about the growing influence of Muslim working women, and Meltdown by 2015 winners Chris Clearfield and András Tilcsik, who lay out how to avoid catastrophic failures.

Following last year’s prize ceremony in New York, Mr Gul and other finalists took part in a masterclass about how to bring books from proposal to publication, now a podcast on

The Bracken Bower Prize is named after Brendan Bracken and Marvin Bower, who laid the foundations of the modern FT and McKinsey, respectively. The prize goes to the author of a 5,000-word book proposal on the challenges and opportunities of growth and is open to writers aged under 35. The deadline for this year’s prize is September 30, and the winner will be announced at a dinner in London on November 12, when the FT and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award will also be presented.

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