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February 13, 1949 |
Sandor Kenyeres (born 13 February 1949) is a Hungarian property developer, scientific philanthropist, and cultural visionary. His most recognized development project was the renovation of Budapest’s Buda City Center, for which he designed the concept for the city center, including a park district (Millenaris Park), and developed a shopping center (Mammut Centre).
He actively supports the scientific community within Central and Eastern Europe by setting up the Talentum Prize for outstanding young scientists and researchers as well as creating the Talentis Program, an ambitious attempt to create a Hungarian Silicon Valley within the Zsambek Basin as an incubator for Hungarian high-tech startups.
He also promotes several initiatives for achieving cultural understanding between the East and the West, including the foundation of the Eurasia Circle for Cultural Understanding and Prosperity, which promotes understanding between nations based on not only business but also other interests including cultural, spiritual, and quality of life.
- 1 Early Life and Education
- 2 Career
- 3 Scientific Philanthropy
- 4 Cultural Visionary
- 5 References
Early Life and Education
Kenyeres attended high school in the nearby city of Szekzsard, where he graduated with honors from Garay Janos High School in 1969. After high school, he enrolled in the prestigious Budapest University of Technology and Economics (Hungary’s equivalent of MIT). During his university studies, he became fascinated with electronics and ended up graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering (1973).
After Kenyeres’s graduation in 1973, he began to work for Tungsram, the Hungarian national electronics manufacturer. At Tungsram, he worked as a research engineer in charge of managing projects, coordinating production, and supervising investments.
In 1976, Tungsram sent Kenyeres abroad to study the semiconductor business from Fairchild Semiconductor in preparation for setting up a semiconductor manufacturing facility in Gyöngyös, Hungary. Along with two other Tungsram colleagues, he first moved to the Silicon Valley, USA in 1976 to study semiconductor production practices. In 1977, he moved to Japan (Tokyo and Nagoya) in order to better understand the software and equipment necessary for semiconductor production.
Following his research abroad, Kenyeres returned to Hungary and assumed responsibility at Tungsram for semiconductor technology.
Construction: Burginvest Rt.
In 1978, Kenyeres felt constrained by his corporate position at Tungsram and decided to follow his entrepreneurial spirit by creating Burginvest Rt., a residential construction company. With Burginvest, he applied the construction skills that he learned from his father and constructed apartment buildings and villas in Budapest’s Buda Hills.
Fashion Design: Szandra Shoes & Design
In 1982, Kenyeres grew weary of the construction industry and decided to experiment with his childhood fascination in shoe design. As a child, he learned the skills of shoemaking from his father. With this basic knowledge, Kenyeres started up a women’s shoe company called Szandra Shoes & Design. His company designed and produced women’s shoes until the end of communism in 1989.
Buda City Centre
Following the regime change, Kenyeres took advantage of his first chance to freely travel outside Hungary by going on a world tour through Europe, Asia, and the US. During this tour, he was struck by the stark contrasts between the developed Western Europe and the lack of development in Central and Eastern Europe. In response, he decided to return to his home country in 1992 and involve himself in the development of Budapest.
Kenyeres worked on the concept of the Buda City Centre, a plan to transform a run-down neighborhood into a social hub for Budapest, including commercial (e.g. Mammut Shopping Centre), communal (e.g. Fény Street Market), and green elements (e.g. Millenaris Park).
In 1998, Kenyeres finalized the development of the City Centre’s main piece: Mammut Centre, a commercial, office, entertainment, public facilities, and parking complex. Based on the success of Mammut Centre, he developed in 2001 an addition to the complex called Mammut 2, which increased the overall size of the Mammut complex to 105,000 sqm, 330 stores, and 1,200 parking spaces.
In parallel with Mammut Centre’s development, Kenyeres supported several programmes to improve the surrounding community. He gave his support to the rehabilitation of neighboring streets, including Retek Street, Feny Street and Lovohaz Street. He encouraged the erection in front of Mammut Centre of a monument to the martyrs of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. He helped to create the Foundation for the Future of the Homeless, which is aimed at improving the living conditions of homeless within the district.
Kenyeres’s development efforts were internationally recognized when Mammut Centre was awarded the 2003 FIABCI Prix d’Excellence for quality urban development.
In 2001, Kenyeres became disillusioned with the slow development of the economy in Hungary and decided to tour Central Europe in search of sources for growth. During this tour, he consulted with numerous members of the academic community and came to the conclusion that Central Europe could best achieve substantial economic growth by taking advantage of its most famous natural resource: scientific minds.
Leading the Talentis Group, Kenyeres has engaged in a regional development programme with numerous elements, including educational, research and development, business, residential, leisure, and environmental. The programme involves 29 independent projects, five of which have already been completed (a logistics center, a research incubator, a business and wellness hotel, a condominium, and local infrastructural improvements). Similar to the Mammut Centre development, Kenyeres has placed substantial emphasis on ensuring that the project’s developments also directly benefit the surrounding communities. For this purpose, the Talentis Group has focused its activities on municipal improvements, including the renovation of local schools and the refurbishment of the town centre in Herceghalom.
Royal Palaces Cyprus
In 2010, Kenyeres relocated to Cyprus and began developing a series of ultra-luxury palaces and villas. In 2013, he completed Antara Palace, a five star wellness and destination spa. For the next development, he is planning a palace inspired by Morrocan style.
In 2014, Kenyeres founded Atum Developments Ltd., a property development company focused on developing resort/business hubs that are located in key international positions maximizing access to world travel markets.
Atum Developments’ first project is Eden City (Cyprus), a luxury lifestyle resort to be developed in Paphos, Cyprus. Eden City envisions the construction of a lifestyle island (Divina Island) with apartments, hotels and a marina. On the adjacent peninsula (the Peninsula), the project will create a coastal tower complex for health and well-being. As a final step, the project will create an inner district (the Garden of Eden) dedicated to business, culture and entertainment.
Due to Kenyeres’s background as an electrical engineer, he recognizes the importance of promoting scientific research, particularly the research efforts of younger scientists. For this purpose, in 2002 Kenyeres founded the Talentum Prize together with the Central European Talent Scout Foundation and the Hungarian Academy of Science.
The Talentum Prize provides recognition and financial support to young scientific researchers who demonstrate extraordinary talent. Each year, the prize is awarded to three young Central European scholars, professionals or researchers who offer a promising scientific concept, issue or professional program. In addition to scientific value, each offering is assessed based on its social benefits, feasibility and impact on the quality of life.
In 2003, Kenyeres was the main sponsor and speaker at the World Science Forum in Budapest, a milestone event that included as one of its speakers the famous central banker Alexandre Lamfalussy. At this event, Kenyeres introduced the Talentis Project, the goal of which is to develop a Central European hub for promoting scientific research in the Zsambek region of Hungary.
In 2009, Kenyeres went on another worldwide tour to examine the causes and potential solutions to the post-2007 world economic recession. During his travels in Asia, he was surprised by how well Asian countries responded to the economic crisis as opposed to their Western counterparts. In response, Kenyeres set up a series of initiatives to help Western countries learn from alternative Asian solutions as well as to promote better understanding between the world’s cultures.
In 2010, Kenyeres founded the Eurasia Circle for Cultural Understanding (EC-CUP) along with two world-famous professors Zoltan J. Acs and Imre B. Kovacs. This organization was set up to promote cultural understanding between Europe, Asia, and Africa. The organization selected Cyprus as its venue due to Cyprus’s historical role as the meeting point of the three continents.
On 26 February 2011, Kenyeres organized a major cultural and artistic event, The Cultural Bridge China-Europe, to promote the historical and cultural links between China and Europe, including Hungary’s special link due to its Asian heritage. This gala event was organized at Budapest’s Congress Center with an opening speech by the Chinese Ambassador to Hungary and a concert by Havasi, the famous Hungarian pianist. As the event was organized to coincide with China’s New Year of the Moon, it received extensive coverage in Chinese media, including CCTV(the national Chinese State channel) and Phoenix (the Hong Kong channel).
In May 2011, Kenyeres continued to promote his Cultural Bridge concept by organizing an event with Havasi in Hong Kong titled “Two Coast, Four Countries”. In his role as the Vice President of the Hong Kong Chinese Industry & Commerce Association, Kenyeres invited business leaders from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan to promote understanding between the countries and help them reconcile their differences.