Taiwanese tycoon offers Nobel-type prizes

AP News
Posted: Jan 28, 2013 4:41 AM

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A Taiwanese tycoon with vast business interests in mainland China said Monday he is funding what local media call Asia's Nobel Prizes for outstanding achievements in natural and social sciences.

Ruentex Group head Samuel Yin announced the establishment of the Tang Prize Foundation with an initial endowment of 3 billion New Taiwan dollars ($103 million). The 618-907 A.D. Tang Dynasty is widely revered by Chinese for its cultural and scientific achievements.

The prizes will be awarded every other year to international leaders in biopharmaceutical science, sustainable development, the study of China and the rule of law.

Yin said he decided on those fields because the 118-year-old Nobels do not cover them, and they have intrinsic importance for humanity.

The prizes will be awarded starting next year. Winners will receive NT$50 million ($1.7 million). Nobel awards for peace, medicine, chemistry, physics, literature and economics bring each winner about $1.2 million and enormous international recognition.

Last year, the 62-year-old Yin vowed to give away 95 percent of his assets — estimated to be worth NT$100 billion — after he dies.

Yin is known for his generous donations to education and charity in China, which have helped cement his influence there. Taiwan media say more than 80,000 Chinese students have received tuition assistance from him.

In the late 1980s, he co-financed the building of a 250-kilometer (155 mile) railway in eastern China.

He also set up Peking University's Guanghua School of Management, which is now an important source of personnel for China's government and in state-run businesses.

The Tang Prize winners will be nominated and screened by special committees set up by the Academia Sinica, Taiwan's most prestigious research organization.