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Last Updated: Monday, 10 September 2007, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
$1m prizes to complement Nobels
By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News, York

The new prizes will carry Fred Kavli's name

Three new awards for scientific research - worth $1m (0.5m) each - have been announced by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

The Kavli Prizes will be presented in 2008 for "outstanding contributions" to the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.

A call for nominations was made at the BA Festival of Science in York.

The organisers said the awards would sit alongside Sweden's Nobel Prizes rather than compete with them.

Since 1901, the Nobel Prizes have been awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace.

Increasing visibility

The Kavli Prize is named after entrepreneur Fred Kavli, whose philanthropic foundation has funded the scheme.

Mr Kavli was born in Norway but later moved to the US to set up the Kavlico Corporation, which became one of the world's biggest suppliers of sensors for the aeronautic and automotive industries.

I decided to support science in three fields - astroscience, nanoscience and neuroscience - from the biggest, to the smallest, to the most complex
Fred Kavli
He said he wanted the awards to raise the profile of science.

"I decided to support science in three fields - astroscience, nanoscience and neuroscience - from the biggest, to the smallest, to the most complex," he told reporters.

"I think these fields are really the most fascinating and they will bring us forward in human understanding in all fields of effort."

Committee decision

Jan Fridthjof Bernt, president of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, said that the awards were now open for nominations.

Candidates have to be put forward by professors or directors of research institutes - self nomination is not allowed - by 15 December 2007.

For each of the three science prizes, a committee of leading researchers - recommended by scientific academies, including the UK's Royal Society - will recommend the individual or group deemed most worthy of an honour.

The prize winners will be announced in June 2008. After this, the awards will become a biannual event.

Lord Rees, president of the Royal Society, said: "Fred deserves tremendous acclaim, not only for his immense generosity, but also for his vision in deciding 'blue skies' research in exciting inter-disciplinary subjects was something that was worth supporting and in his choice of these three subjects."

The Kavli Prize is a partnership between the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the Norwegian Ministry of Education and the Kavli Foundation.

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters also runs the Abel Prize for mathematics - a field overlooked by the Nobels.

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