Âriel de Fauconberg
The winner of the Bracken Bower Prize, Âriel de Fauconberg, for ‘Before the Dawn: Racing to net zero on the front lines of climate innovation’ © Gareth Davies

A book proposal about the pioneering work of climate technology entrepreneurs has won this year’s Bracken Bower Prize.

Âriel de Fauconberg received the £15,000 award at a ceremony on December 5 for her book idea, entitled Before the Dawn: Racing to net zero on the front lines of climate innovation.

De Fauconberg is a Gates Cambridge scholar and a PhD student in her penultimate year at Cambridge university, as well as co-founder and research director of the Good Data Initiative, a youth-led think-tank.

The award goes to the best business book proposal by an author aged under 35. It was first awarded in 2014 and has been a launch pad for many business books based on winning and shortlisted proposals.

De Fauconberg’s book would draw on what she learnt and saw during 18 months embedded in a climate tech accelerator conducting ethnographic work for her doctorate. She describes it as a “candid account of a cohort of climate tech entrepreneurs” as they face up to “the challenges of founding and scaling the innovations needed to navigate the climate crisis and bring society to net zero emissions”.

Katherine Garrett-Cox, chief executive of GIB Asset Management and one of this year’s judges, described it as a “standout” account “from the front line of tackling climate change”.

This year’s other finalists were Victoria Berquist for The Unstoppable Rise of Private Capital in Public Health: How businesses can help or harm the future of healthcare and Julia Marisa Sekula for Owning the Centre: Journeys from Silicon Valley to the Amazon rainforest.

Finalists have extracts from their proposals published by FT.com, are invited to the ceremony, at which the Business Book of the Year Award is also presented, and take part in a masterclass with publishing representatives about how to bring their proposal to publication.

The three finalists were chosen from a shortlist of 11 entries by a jury looking for a proposal that provided a compelling and enjoyable insight into future trends in business, economics, finance or management.

Apart from Garrett-Cox, the judges of the 2022 prize, which is supported by the FT and McKinsey, were: Isabel Fernández-Mateo, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at London Business School; Rik Ubhi, editorial director of Heligo Books; and Jonathan Hillman, author of The Digital Silk Road, based on his prizewinning proposal from 2019, about the battle between the US and China for control over the next generation of technology.

Last year’s winners of the Bracken Bower Prize were Ines Lee and Eileen Tipoe with their proposal for a book about the future of higher education, Failing the Class. The prize is named after Brendan Bracken, former chair of the FT, and Marvin Bower, former managing director of McKinsey.

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