The Tan Kah Kee Science Awards grew out of the former Tan Kah Kee Awards, which was established in 1988 and named after Mr. Tan Kah Kee (1874-1961), a well-known overseas Chinese leader who had remarkably contributed to the development of science and education in China. The Tan Kah Kee Awards were first set up by Mr. Tan's relatives, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) was entrusted for its organization and evaluation.
With the backing of leaders from the State Council and the support from the Ministry of Finance, CAS and the Bank of China, the Tan Kah Kee Science Award Foundation was duly registered and formally established in February 2003 upon the approval of the State Council and the ratification of the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
The Foundation is a national nonprofit entity jointly funded by CAS and the Bank of China. It is an independent corporate body under the academic leadership of CAS and the supervision and management of the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
The objective of the Foundation is to honor prominent Chinese scientists who have made outstanding achievements, so as to promote China's scientific and technological development and to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The Foundation exercises a responsibility system of the Council Board, which consists of representatives from CAS, the Bank of China, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Education, the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China, the China Association for Science and Technology and the Chinese Academy of Engineering as well as celebrities enthusiastic for the cause.
The Foundation set up the Tan Kah Kee Science Awards in 2003 and the Tan Kah Kee Young Scientist Awards in 2010 (Awardees should be under 40 years old.) in recognition of the living Chinese citizens who have made outstanding S&T achievements in recent years. The Tan Kah Kee Science Awards and the Tan Kah Kee Young Scientist Awards are presented in six fields: mathematics and physics , chemistry, life sciences, earth sciences, information technical sciences and technological sciences. The Awards are conferred every two years. There is one prize in each field. An award is not given if no qualified winner is available. Each awardee of the Tan Kah Kee Science Awards receives a certificate, a gold medal, and 1000,000 yuan. Each awardee of the Tan Kah Kee Young Scientist Awards receives a certificate and 200,000 yuan.
A panel is established in each field to carry out the primary screening of the nominees, choose preliminary candidates and make arrangements for international peer reviews. Based on the reviewers' comments, the panels are to conduct full discussion and detailed appraisal of the preliminary candidates, choose valid candidates by ballot and submit the voting results for the examination by the Foundation’s Council Board. The Foundation's Council Board shall vote to determine the final winners.
An applicant for the Awards should be first nominated by specialists of professor rank in the field. A self-application is not accepted. A living Chinese scientist who has important original S&T results in the fields and passed through the procedures of formal recommendation and peer evaluation is eligible for a prize from the Awards.
It has been a long-cherished hope of several generations of Chinese scientists to enhance the original innovation of this country. With an objective of awarding the indigenous innovative achievements, and in light of the national S&T development and the institutional reform of China's S&T rewarding system, the Foundation will contribute to building China into an innovation-oriented country by allowing an active play to the Tan Kah Kee Science Awards in raising national capacity of independent innovation, nurturing a strict and vigorous work style among Chinese scientists and inspiring their enthusiasm for innovation.