The Nobel Prize announcements for 2022 were made recently. The honour, bestowed by the Swedish Academy, is released in six categories. This year, Svante Paabo received the Nobel Prize in Medicine, Alen Aspect, John F Clauser and Anton Zelinger won the Physics Nobel, Annie Ernaux won the Nobel Prize in Literature, Carolyn R. Bertozzi, K. Barry Sharpless and Morten Meldel won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and Ales Blalliatski won the Nobel Peace Prize. 

The Nobel Prize for Economics, which is not really a bonafide Nobel, will be announced on October 10.  

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Who funds the Nobel Prize?  

Alfred Nobel signed a will before his death in 1896 that went on to institute the Nobel Prize. In his will, the chemist demanded that his estate be used as a fund for the Nobel Prize. He invested SEK 31 million (worth 1,794 million today) in ‘safe securities’.  

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The income from investments was to be “distributed annually in the form of prizes to those who during the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit on humankind”. In 1900, a private institution was set up called The Nobel Foundation, in keeping with the scientist’s will.  

Two world wars and a global financial crisis later, the meaning of ‘safe securities’ had to be reinterpreted. The Swedish government-sanctioned changes in the funding of the Nobel Prize in the 1950s whereby the board was given a free hand to invest in real estate, bonds, loans as well as stocks.  

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Nobel funds were low ever since the prizes started being given out in 1900. A change of policy in 1946, whereby the Nobel committee’s funds were exempt from taxation, finally allowed the body some financial breathing space. The final prize amount was set in 1991. In 2020, the value of the Nobel Prize was set at SEK 10 million.