The Technology Academy Finland has shortlisted Linus Torvalds for its 2012 Millennium Technology Prize, worth over €1 million (US$1.3 million).
There is one other shortlisted candidate for this year's prize, Japanese stem-cell researcher Shinya Yamanaka.
The prize, awarded every two years, has previously honored other contributors to the field of information technology.
In 2004 Tim Berners-Lee won the first Millennium Technology Prize for his creation of the technology underpinning the worldwide Web.
The 2006 winner was Shuji Nakamura for his invention of new light sources.
Biotechnology took top honors in 2008, with Robert Langer receiving the prize for developing materials for controlled drug release and tissue regeneration. Among the runners up was Andrew Viterbi, a co-founder of Qualcomm and inventor of an algorithm for decoding data sent over noisy communications links.
The main prize in 2010 went to Michael Grätzel, for his creation of the dye-sensitized solar cells that now bear his name. The runners up were Steve Furber, principal designer of the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor, and Richard Friend, inventor of the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) now used in displays on cell-phones and televisions.
Torvalds' nomination for the 2012 prize is a recognition of his creation of the Linux kernel. The academy said his work has had a great impact on shared software development, networking and the openness of the Web.
Yamanaka discovered a new way to develop induced pluripotent stem cells (cells that can turn into many different kinds of tissue) allowing medical researchers to pursue their work without the use of embryonic stem cells. The use of stem cells from embryos faces ethical challenges in some countries, and the foundation singled out Yamanaka for his work on ethically sustainable methodology.
Technology Academy Finland will announce the final winner of the Millennium Technology Prize 2012 at a ceremony in Helsinki on June 13. The foundation, a partnership of the Finnish state and Finnish industry, aims to promote research and innovation that improves quality of life and reduces fears of technological change.
Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org.