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A Taiwanese tycoon with business interests in mainland China said on 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 $103 million.

The 618-907 AD Tang Dynasty is 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 $1.7 million, compared to $1.2 million that comes with a Nobel prize.

Last year, the 62-year-old tycoon vowed to give away 95%of his assets - estimated to be worth $3.4 billion - after he dies. Yin is known for his generous donations to education and charity in China. Taiwan media say over 80,000 Chinese students have received tuition assistance from him. In the 1980s, he co-financed the building of a 250km railway in eastern China.

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


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