BETA is a research laboratory of Université Louis Pasteur (ULP), Strasbourg, France. It was created in 1972 within the Faculty of Economics and Management. It is associated to the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and labelled "Joint Research Unit” (UMR ULP-CNRS 7522) since 1997, which means that BETA is considered as one of the strategic French research centres in the field of “economics and management science". BETA is also a member of the national organisation Céreq, for research in education, training, and employment. It includes about 150 people, of which 2/3 permanent (teachers-researchers, researchers and administrative) and 1/3 PhD and post-doc.

As a university lab, the core mission of the Beta is to carry out front-edge research in the field of economics and management science, and to train young researcher to and by research activities. But it is also to provide some expertise (notably to policy makers) to broadly diffuse results, research tools and concepts in the society. Historically, the laboratory developed its research programme on the basis of micro and macroeconomic theory, and is heir to a local tradition of studying the history of economic thought. In the long run specific competencies have been derived from research activities and methodological tools such as: modelling techniques, econometrics, evaluation methods, foresight, experimental economics, database management. It progressively defined original scientific trajectories, which led to specialisations such as in economics of innovation (science/technology/innovation policy - analysis and evaluation-, industry-science relations, collaborative agreements, role of IPR in innovation, evolutionary theory of the firm, management of technologies, etc), besides environmental economics, socio–economic approaches of education, training and employment, and more recently historical economics and cliometrics.

It is the result from the fruitful interaction of «theoretical» approaches and «applied» approaches, as expressed in its name. Correspondingly, Beta is conducting a large share of its research activities under contract (which represent about 70% of its resources, excl. wages of permanent staff and PhD/post doc allocation).

Most researchers have backgrounds in economics and management science, but other disciplines are also represented among the team, such as natural science (chemistry, physics, nano-science), sociology, education science, and philosophy.

Beta was involved in various evaluations of the socio-economic impact of FP or on the impact of FP5/6 on innovation. This provides a good knowledge of the architecture of the RTD funding structure at EC level “from the inside”. It has also been involved in an international comparison study carried out (under ZEW Manheim and Joanneum Research) on the tools used to support R&D activities in Europe. This experience, combined with other works at international level in specific sector (such as space or energy) and at French level and with personal responsibilities endorsed by individuals (as experts for evaluation studies, see CVs), allows Beta to claim for having a good knowledge of the R&D programmes in Europe. In addition, and on a worldwide basis, in the recent OECD survey on the Chinese innovation system, Beta has been involved as responsible of the analysis of the R&D programmes (including the collection of very recent data on these matters); Beta has also a long experience of collaborating with Brazilian labs (notably DPCT at Unicamp, and Instituto de Economia at UFRJ); and Beta members have also high level responsibilities in the international relations of Beta’s mother Faculty and University, giving good access to international sources from out of Europe. All these elements are able to provide a sound basis for international comparisons required in the project.

BETA is also largely involved in the analysis of the academic research sector, and especially the science production processes and the interaction between science and industry – ISR (yearly survey of technology transfers activities from French universities and PROs, international comparison of academic entrepreneurship in EC Keins project, participation to strategic committee of CNRS Industrial Policy, in charge of the OECD survey on Chinese system on the ISR, etc). These experiences provide quite good knowledge of the specificity of the academic and basic research activities, and how they interact with private R&D activities (which is a key element of the achievement of critical mass of R&D programmes).

Beta, as a lab in economics and management sciences, has the required qualification to integrate the complex concepts of scale economies, scope economies, increasing returns, network economies and additionalities that are necessary to develop a relevant definition of critical mass.