The 2013 James Menzies-Kitchin (JMK) Young Directors Award has gone to Alex Brown, who becomes the 16th winner of the prestigious prize, following in the footsteps of the likes of Thea Sharrock and Polly Findlay.

Brown, who has been assistant director on Jez Butterworth's The River at the Royal Court and The Turn of the Screw at the Almeida, will receive funds to stage a production at the Young Vic this Autumn.

He was selected from a shortlist of seven young directors, with Kim Pearce announced as runner-up. The other finalists were Michael Bryher, Tom Bailey, Jennifer Tang, Anna Marsland and Mel Hillyard.

The award, which was presented this evening at the Young Vic, has been increased to £25,000 this year (from £18,000 last year) to further assist young directors with the costs of staging their productions.

Stephen Fewell, Chair of the JMK Trust, said: "This year we've been fundraising feverishly to increase the JMK Award to £25,000; more than double the amount of two years ago. Thanks to the support of some highly generous donors, this will let Alex wage his creative team at Equity levels- a fundamental prerequisite for making theatre.

"We are also significantly stepping up our regional work to try and combat the 'pinch' that development work is experiencing; institutional cuts from above and rising living costs from below."

Brown, who graduated from English and Drama at Sussex University in 2009, was a director on Old Vic New Voices: 24 Hour Plays and went on to work on OVNV's Ignite project (2010) and TS Eliot Exchange (2012). He also trained through workshops with Living Pictures and on the Young Vic's Genesis Directors Network.

Fewell added: "Alex, through the JMK Award and a space at the Young Vic, gets a big opportunity to learn through making theatre, rather than by assisting or studying. As the theatre ecology adapts to circumstance, we hope to increase our role in safeguarding its widely-celebrated ongoing creative and economic success and, crucially, to create further such opportunities."

The JMK Trust was set up to commemorate the talented young director James Menzies-Kitchin, whose career was cut short by his sudden death at the age of 28.