A planned Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, to be called the Tang Award (唐獎), is to start its nomination and screening process next year.
The award, created by Ruentex Group chairman Samuel Yin (尹衍樑) with the help of Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s top research institution, is to honor individuals, regardless of nationality, who have made outstanding contributions or achieved significant breakthroughs in sustainable engineering, medical and biotech research, Sinology studies and law.
A cash prize of NT$50 million (US$1.72 million) is to be presented to the winner in each of the four categories, making the award more lucrative than the Nobel Prize, which awards winners about NT$44 million.
A foundation for the award will call an international news conference next month to formally announce the award and launch the nomination and screening process, with the first award ceremony scheduled for June 18, 2014, according to the Academia Sinica.
Tang awards will be presented every two years, it added.
“The Tang Award can make up for the deficiencies in the Nobel Prize, and raise Taiwan’s profile in the international academic community,” Academia Sinica President Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠) said on Friday.
“This is a significant award,” he said, adding that there is currently no award that honors achievements in Sinology studies, even though it encompasses a wide range of fields, including the history, philosophy, religion, languages and literature of China and its periphery.
Yin announced last year that he would donate 95 percent of his wealth to charity, the largest-ever donation by an entrepreneur in the nation’s history. His wealth is is estimated at between NT$100 billion and NT$200 billion.
Yin, who shaved his head when he made the announcement, said at the time that he did not “want his family members to fight over the inheritance” and said they supported his decision.
The businessman had apparently been thinking about the award for 19 years.
It is named after the Tang Dynasty, regarded as one of the most prosperous dynasties in China’s history, showing Yin’s attachment and devotion to traditional culture.
In creating a category for Sinology studies, the entrepreneur was showing his gratitude to his mentor, philosopher Nan Huai-chin (南懷謹), considered by many to be a major force in the revival of Chinese Buddhism.
Nan was the first person to encourage Yin to make inroads in China and Yin has carried out Nan’s wishes by promoting higher education through a scholarship program which has benefited tens of thousands of Chinese students.
Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, which is sponsored by Yin, has seen thousands of graduates.