The nomination criteria for the Tang Prize stresses innovation, social value and influence. The first, innovation, means original research with a particular focus on the discovery of problems and their solutions, including all the steps in-between. Innovation is something which 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 the Academica Sinica on commission of the Tang Prize Foundation; beginning with the third prize cycle (2017-2018), nomination and selection are now conducted by an independently acting selection committee which is formed in partial cooperation with the 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, including many Nobel laureates, to submit nominees, ensuring those nominated have attained a sufficient level of achievement.