Obituaries

Wednesday, 25 October 2023 09:40

In Memoriam: Attila Varga (1958-2023)

Varga AWe are saddened to announce that Attila Varga passed away at the age of 66, on 23 October 2023, after a long illness.

Attila Varga was born on 18 June 1958 in Tatabánya, Hungary, where he completed his primary and secondary education. He began his university studies in 1979 at the JPTE Faculty of Economics, Pécs, where he graduated in 1983 and obtained his doctorate in 1989. He received his PhD degree from the Department of Economics, University of West Virginia (USA) in 1997. From 1998 to 2001, he worked at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and was a Senior Research Fellow at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. After his return to Hungary, he habilitated and received a doctorate from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2006 and was appointed as a university professor.In 2019, he became the member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

His academic career took off in the United States in the 1990s, where his main research area was knowledge flows, the spatial diffusion of innovations from universities and research institutes. His highly cited articles have been published in leading journals, and the book version of his doctoral thesis "University research and regional innovation: a spatial econometric analysis of scientific technology transfers" has been a great success. Since the 2000s, he has been focusing on the spatial determinants of economic growth in Hungary, the European Union and Turkey, using a large scale spatial economic impact analysis model developed under his leadership. The results of his research have been used in economic policy, with suggestions focusing on R&D and human capital development, entrepreneurship and innovation network policies, investment support for smart specialisation and infrastructure development. To date, he is one of the most cited Hungarian economists. His work has been recognised with the 2018 Academic Prize of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Order of Merit of Hungary. In 2023 he recieved the prestigious ERSA Prize in Regional Science.

As a university professor, he contributed significantly to the development of his alma mater, the University of Pécs. Between 2006 and 2012 he was the director of the Department of Economics and Regional Sciences at the Faculty of Business and Economics, UP and founded the Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Center. In 2010, he took over the leadership of the Doctoral School of Regional Politicy and Economics, which he has developed into a prestigious programme with many international connections. Under his leadership, this research center and the doctoral school became the background of a vivid academic community that contributed significantly to the Faculty of Business and Economics as well as the Hungarian and international regional science community. This community has launched and supported the academic careers of many researchers over the years.

Attila has always been renowned for his commitment to scientific discovery and has never been deterred by hard work. His absence is already felt by friends, close colleagues, students and colleagues. We will cherish his memory as one of the leading researchers in regional science, a great professor, mentor and friend. Shall he rest in peace.

Dr. Tamás Sebestyén
Department of Economics and Econometrics
University of Pécs, Hungary

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