An overview of the Nobel Foundation | Sunday Observer

An overview of the Nobel Foundation

2 May, 2021

A better and a beautiful world had been the dream of Alfred Nobel. He was of the firm belief that the people’s ability of improving society through their knowledge, science and above all humanism is enormous. This specific thought, perceived by Nobel paved the way for him to create a specific prize which would acclaim and reward the exceptional discoveries that have given the greatest benefit to the mankind. Since the year 1901, in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace, the Nobel Prize has been awarded. A memorial prize in economic sciences was also introduced in 1968.

Last will

Based on the last will of Alfred Nobel, it was in the year 1895 that the economic foundations for the Nobel Prize were laid. Based on the instructions, given by Alfred Nobel in his last will, for more than a century, a great number of independently operated prize awarding institutions have selected the Nobel Laureates in every category.

In that light, since the year 1901, 950 Laureates have 597 times been conferred with the Nobel Prize. This shows that some have been conferred with the prize twice. The Nobel Prize or the ‘Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences’ in Memory of Alfred Nobel have been conferred on a total of 919 individuals and 24 organisations. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, during the spring of 2020, the Nobel Prize awarding institutions took the decision of selecting the new Nobel Prize laureates. With the collaboration of the Swedish diplomatic missions, situated around the world, all the laureates were fortunate enough to receive their medals and diplomas while being safely at home. David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, in his acceptance speech on December 10, 2020 for the Nobel Peace Prize, declared “This Nobel Peace Prize is more than a thank you. It is a call to action. Because of so many wars, climate change, the widespread use of hunger as a political and military weapon, and a global health pandemic that makes all of that exponentially worse – 270 million people are marching toward starvation. Failure to address their needs will cause a hunger pandemic which will dwarf the impact of Covid”.


The process of selecting the Nobel laureates does not fall upon the Nobel foundation. The foundation is similar to that of an investment company which invests its capital in different ways to establish a strong and stable funding base for the prize and the administrative activities.

Tax exemption

In Sweden the Nobel foundation has been exempted from all taxes since 1946. Also in the United States, since 1953 investment taxes have not been imposed on the foundation. Compared with the previous years, since the 1980s it has been noticed that the investments of the foundation have been growing considerably. During the initial years of the 1980s, one million SEK (Swedish Krona) were given as the awarding money, while the same increasied up to 10 million SEK in the year 2008.

As per the statutes, the foundation is required to consist of a board with its seat in Stockholm, Sweden. The board should consist of five men. The King in Council appoints the Chairman of the board. The trustees of the prize-awarding institutions have the authority of appointing the other four members. From among the board members, the selection of an Executive Director is the first task done by the board. The King in Council is authorised to appoint a Deputy Director whereas the trustees are authorised for the appointment of two deputies for the other members. However, since the year 1995, the trustees have been appointing all the members of the board while the board itself is involved with the task of appointing both the Executive Director and the Deputy Director.