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Personal profile

Contact Details

Phone: +44 (0)121 204 3339
Email: b.becker@aston.ac.uk  
Room: SW1019


I am an economist with a research focus on innovation. Before joining Aston Business School, I worked as a Senior Researcher at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) in London and as Lecturer in Economics. I hold a PhD in Economics from Birkbeck College at the University of London, an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, and a Dipl.-Volksw. from the University of Bonn, one year of which I studied at Fitzwilliam College at the University of Cambridge.

My main research interests include innovation and R&D, in particular innovation policy, open innovation, innovation diffusion, environmental innovation, sustainability, entrepreneurship and SMEs, and regions.

Output of my work on innovation policy has been cited in several publications by policy-making and policy-advising institutions, such as the Social Market Foundation in the UK, The Hamilton Project in the United States, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, the World Bank, the OECD and the European Commission. I have acted as an academic advisor to the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation of the Flemish Government in Brussels, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and The Behavioural Insights Team. 

My research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Anglo-German Foundation, the German Research Foundation (DFG), the German Ministry of Finance, and the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), amongst others. I have myself peer-reviewed grant applications for the ESRC and the DFG.

My work has been published in international academic journals including Research Policy, Regional Studies, Small Business Economics, Journal of International Business Policy, and International Journal of Finance and Economics. Find more details about my publications on my Google Scholar profile: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=NGaU8-AAAAAJ&hl=en 

I have also regularly disseminated my work at global high-profile conferences, such as the Academy of Management, the DRUID Society, European Economic Association, Econometrics Society, European Association for Research in Industrial Economics and Royal Economic Society.

I am a topic editor for the interdisciplinary journal Sustainability, and was guest editor of a special issue on Ten Years of European Monetary Union in Economic Modelling.

In my free time, I enjoy hiking, playing music, and voluntary charity work.

Funding Applications and Awards

  • 'Innovation: to abandon or to pursue? An investigation of innovation abandonment decision-making', Visitor Grant, Aston Academy for Research in Management, for project partner's research visit at Aston Business School (J. Bourke, University College Cork), 2018/19 [£ 875]
  • ‘Innovation: to abandon or to pursue?’, co-organisation of an International Symposium, Research Strategic Development Fund, College of Business & Law, University College Cork (as co-applicant, with J. Bourke, 2018/ 2019) [€ 2,000]

  • ‘Inclusive innovation, social entrepreneurship and mission-led business in the UK’, Seed Corn grant, from Aston Academy for Research in Management (joint with U. Stephan and M. Hart, 01/2018 – 07/2018; Aston Business School) [£ 1001.27]
  • ‘The impact of policy support on firms’ innovation outcomes and business performance', State of the Art (SOTA) Review, commissioned by Enterprise Research Centre (November 2018) [£ 1,000]
  • ‘Innovation, internationalisation and growth’ (as Co-investigator, with J. Love and N. Hewitt-Dundas), within Enterprise Research Centre Phase 3, funded by ESRC, BEIS, Innovate UK, British Business Bank (Principal investigator: S. Roper; ERC at Warwick and Aston Business Schools, with Leeds, Cork and Queen’s Business Schools) [£ 4,458]

  • 'Linking SME Data to the Science Base - An Exploratory Study of Growth and Productivity Effects', project 8 of Enterprise Research Centre Phase 2, funded by ESRC, BEIS, Innovate UK, British Business Bank (Co-investigator; joint with S. Roper (Principal investigator) and E. Vanino, 12/2016 - 05/2017; Warwick and Aston Business Schools) [£ 6,000] 

  • The Determinants of Investment in Industrial Research and Development in the United Kingdom and in Germany’Anglo-German Foundation (Co-Applicant and Co-Investigator. Grant held jointly at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, London, and the German Institute for Economic Research, Berlin. 2003-2007) (Executive Summary)
  • ‘The Determinants and Effects of Innovation in a Long Firm Panel in Germany’, German Research Foundation (DFG) (Named Co-Investigator. Grant held at the Ifo-Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, 2006)
  • ‘Fluctuations and Long-Term Prosperity: A Study of the UK and International Economies’, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (Co-Investigator on the project part on the determinants of R&D investment in the UK. Grant held at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, London, 2001-2004)
  • ‘Direct and Indirect Rent Seeking within the European Anti-Dumping Rules’, German Research Foundation (DFG) (Co-Investigator. Grant held at the University of Cologne, 1999-2001)
  • ‘Discrete Choice Modelling’, financial support from ESRC Higher Education Fund (Research methods course, IFS London, 2008)

  • ‘The Econometrics of Highly Frequent Financial Time Series’, financial support from ESRC Researcher Development Initiative (Master class, IFS London, 2008)

  • ‘Panel Time Series’, IFS London, 2007, financial support from ESRC Higher Education Fund (Research methods course, IFS London, 2007)

  • ‘International Economics’, financial support from the Royal Economic Society (Easter School, 2007)

  • ‘The Sources of European Economic Growth’, financial support from the European Economic Association (Summer School, Barcelona, 2001)


  • Member of international panel of experts for the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation of the Flemish government, Belgium; for the evaluation of the Policy Research Centre Economy and Entrepreneurship (consisting of entities of the universities KU Leuven and UGhent). November 2019, Brussels
  • Academic advisor to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) on how to maximise the impact of R&D investment, to inform UKRI work on the UK government’s 2.4% R&D target policy. Edinburgh, March 2019.
  • Academic advisor to The Behavioural Insights Team, London, October 2017, for evidence report on how to increase innovation
  • ESRC Evidence Briefing – Highlighting research findings and their relevance in key policy areas, February 2015, 'Public support for business R&D'

PhD Supervision

I am happy to supervise students in any of my research areas and welcome expressions of interest.

  • Bach Nguyen, graduated 2017; Thesis title: ‘Financial constraints, local governance and small firm performance: evidence from Vietnam’ (associate supervisor, main supervisor J. Du, Aston University, associate supervisor T. Mickiewicz)
  • Tulio-Antonio Cravo, graduated 2011. Thesis title: ‘SMEs and regional economic growth in Brazil’ (co-supervision with A. Gourlay, Loughborough University).
  • Xiaoshan Chen, graduated 2009. Thesis title: ‘Common trends and cycles in the Eurozone economies’ (co-supervision with T. Mills, Loughborough University).

Teaching Activity

In my career, I have taught a range of modules in economics, econometrics, research methods, innovation, and entrepreneurship at all undergraduate and postgraduate levels. 

I enjoy using innovative methods to develop students' independent learning and analytical skills. Through my teaching I seek to equip my students with applied specialist knowledge relevant to real life, which they will need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing economic and business environment. 

Teaching Leadership

I was Programme Director of the new MSc Entrepreneurship and International Business from 01/2014-12/2016, which under my leadership achieved a high 5th place in its first UK ranking. Moreover, results from the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) support my inclusive approach to academic leadership. I was also instrumental in transforming the programme into the current MSc Entrepreneurship, so as to align the teaching offering more closely with the University Strategy.

I have served on the judging panel of Aston's Student Enterprise Competition and for the international Queen's Entrepreneurs' Competition (QEC) in Canada. The QEC has been described by the New York Times as "one of the longest-running and best-known undergraduate business plan competitions in the world".

I have been external examiner of PhD Viva Voce examinations at the Universities of Reading and Greenwhich, and Independent Chair of a PhD examination at the School of Languages and Social Sciences at Aston University.

Media Contributions

'Assessing the business performance effects of receiving publicly-funded science, research and innovation grants' (with E. Vanino and S. Roper), covered in BBC News online, UKRI, business advice, the government's website; The Times newspaper (September 2017)

Membership of Professional Bodies

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Academy of Management
  • European Regional Science Association
  • Regional Studies Association


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