2013-12-03 11:00Press release

The Nobel Prize: Here’s how it works

Nobel Laureates are chosen after an extensive selection process at the top scientific academies in Stockholm. When this year’s Laureates receive their prizes from the hand of King Carl XVI Gustaf, work on the nominations for next year has already begun.

“To those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.” That is what Alfred Nobel wrote in his will to describe who would be eligible to receive the Nobel Prize.

The prize is awarded in Stockholm each year in the following categories:

·  Physics

·  Chemistry

·  Physiology or Medicine

·  Literature

·  Economic Sciences (in memory of Alfred Nobel)

Laureates in physics and chemistry are selected by the Royal Academy of Sciences, the prize in medicine is awarded by Karolinska Institutet and the prize in literature by the Swedish Academy. All three institutions are based in Stockholm. The Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel is based on a donation from Sveriges Riksbank and is awarded since 1969.


Finding candidates is an ongoing process and the Nobel committees are responsible for the selection of the candidates. The nomination processes start in September each year. The nominating committees of the institutions must receive the nominations by 31 January. Individuals cannot apply for the Nobel Prize; any chagrin aside, candidates may not nominatethemselves.


Candidates are screened by a separate Nobel Committee for each prize within the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Karolinska Institutet and the Swedish Academy. The committees have between five and six members. The Committee members are elected for a period of three years from among the members of the Academy. Each Nobel Committee in turn summons experts from around the world, who examine the achievements of the candidates.

During the summer the Nobel Committee members compile a report on the candidates nominated for that year’s prize. The names of the nominees and other information about the nominations cannot be revealed until 50 years later.


The proposal is presented to the members of the prize-awarding academy in September. The nominating committees discuss the merits of the candidates and choose who will receive the prize in early October. As soon as the decision is made, the rest of the world is notified. October is the month with the highest international publicity on Nobel, especially in the countries of Laureates.  The focus of the publicity is on the Laureates and their research. In Sweden, the publicity is focused on the Nobel Prize banquet.

Award Ceremony

Nobel Week begins around 6 December each year. All of the Nobel Laureates and their families come to Stockholm. They participate in an extensive program of festivities and academic events arranged by the Nobel Foundation, culminating in the Nobel Day, December 10. The Laureates receive the prize from Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf at the Stockholm Concert Hall (Konserthuset). The Prize ceremony is followed by a banquet in the Stockholm City Hall (Stadshuset).

Asset management

The fortune that serves as the basis for the prize and that makes it all possible is managed by the private Nobel Foundation. It ensures the economic base and guarantees the independence of the Nobel Prize-awarding institutions when choosing Laureates.

More prizes

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo on December 10. Alfred Nobel stipulated in his will that the Peace Prize should be awarded by a committee selected by the Norwegian parliament.

The Prize in Economic Sciences, which is also awarded on Nobel Day in Stockholm, is not a Nobel Prize in the original sense. Its full name is the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. This prize was founded as recently as 1968 when the Riksbank celebrated its 300-year anniversary.

Learn more about the Laureates at the official Nobel Prize website and the Nobel Museum

For more information:
Ann-Charlotte, PR Manager, Stockholm Business Region, ann-charlotte.jonsson@stockholm.se

Stockholm Business Region, with its subsidiaries Stockholm Business Region Development and Stockholm Visitors Board,  is the official investment and tourism promotion agency for the Stockholm region.  Stockholm is one of Europe’s most dynamic sustainable regions. Stockholm Business Region is fully owned by the City of Stockholm. Our common brand is Stockholm – The Capital of Scandinavia.


About Invest Stockholm

Invest Stockholm is the official investment promotion agency of Stockholm. We work with the marketing and development of the Stockholm region as a business destination under the brand Stockholm – The Capital of Scandinavia. Invest Stockholm is a subsidiary of Stockholm Business Region, owned by the city of Stockholm. www.investstockholm.com www.visitstockholm.com www.stockholmbusinessregion.com


Anna Gissler
CEO, Invest Stockholm
Anna Gissler