During Icsid’s XXVIth General Assembly in Singapore on 26–27 November 2009, a proposal was put to members by the Board of Directors introducing the concept of a prize that would be developed and awarded by Icsid.

It is important to acknowledge that there are numerous established and highly prestigious award programmes specific to industrial design throughout the world, however this Prize was to have a different focus. The main concern of the World Design Prize would be to recognize and empower industrial design projects that benefit society and reflect the expanded field of industrial design in the 21st century.

Initially nominations were only open to Icsid members, and the voting was to be public, but in the 2015–2016 nominations were opened to the public and voting remains in the hands of the Icsid Membership.

The expert review Panel was introduced in the 2013-2014 cycle.