The nomination criteria for the Tang Prize stresses innovation, social value and influence. Innovation means original research with a particular focus on discovering problems and their solutions, including all the steps in-between. Innovation changes things for the better and creates new value. In contrast, influence necessarily requires time. This emphasis on innovative, influential work addressing current social needs helps to distinguish the Tang Prize from the Nobel Prize.
Nomination and selection for the first and second Tang Prize cycles (2013-2014 and 2015-2016, respectively) were conducted by Academia Sinica, commissioned by the Tang Prize Foundation; beginning with the third prize cycle (2017~), nomination and selection are conducted by an independent selection committee which is formed in partial cooperation with Academia Sinica. The Tang Prize Selection Committee is composed of four separate committees, one per prize category. The committees invite respected scholars and institutions from around the world to submit nominations.