TRI was founded on 20th April 1943 with a staff of four and started to operate within the institutional system of Erzsébet University. After temporarily working at a leased estate (Lánc Street. 22.) in 1946 it moved to its present location, which was functioning as an orphanage.

The first and founding director of the Institute was ZOLTÁN SZABÓ PÁL (1901 – 1965) a geographer who had strong ties to Pécs. Zoltán Szabó Pál prepared highly impressive institutional development concepts several times (1943, 1945, 1957) but he had no chances for their practical implementation.

The Institute's birth can be owed rather more to progressive social groups, than the state. As there was no hope for getting governmental help to finance the Institute, the director turned to these same social forces again for fundraising. He visited the counties and cities of Transdanubia which were progressive or very concerned about the trend of the German leading people to familiarize them with the objectives of the Institute and ask for financial support.

Fortunately he it from them. (The state of remuneration at the end of December 1943 shrunk to 3000 pengos which was very low).

Thus, the Transdanubian Research Institute was established not only for the benefit of Transdanubia but also mainly from the financial resources of Transdanubia.