The Competitiveness Index model has been used by policymakers across the world, and cited by 80 authorities in the UK alone. The 2016 UK Competitiveness Index benchmarks the competitiveness of the UK’s localities, including cities and Local Enterprise Partnership areas.


  • Since 2008 the research has appeared in the policy documentation of at least 80 regional or local authorities.
  • Since 2014 the research has been utilised by a number of local authorities and sub-national policymakers in the UK, including Bristol, Slough, Hammersmith and Fulham (London), Oldham, Monmouthshire, Dorset, Waltham Forest, Selby, Woking, Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Kesteven, Glasgow, Cornwall, Solent and Vale of White Horse.
  • The York Economic Partnership drew on the UKCI when they developed their 2011 economic strategy for York – with a goal of 1,000 new jobs and 75 new businesses start-ups each year by late 2015.
  • In 2008 the UKCI became an integral feature in the impact analysis for the ESF (European Social Fund) Objective One Programme for the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which recommended greater investment in the county's knowledge economy. Businesses participating in the programme reported an increase in turnover (70 per cent of businesses), in productivity (65 per cent) and in profits (59 per cent).
  • Local authorities in Manchester used the UK Competitiveness Index (UKCI) to inform a new strategic enterprise framework for the city, particularly for focusing intervention on improving business density and start-up rates.
  • Somerset County Council used the researchers' work to evaluate the economic competitiveness of their local authority area, leading to concrete recommendations for how the local public sector could support economic competitiveness and growth, such as improving business networking.
  • The UK Commission for Employment and Skills used UKCI findings to inform their 2010 report Ambition 2020: World Class Skills and Jobs for the UK. Following the report a £100 million Growth and Innovation Fund to boost investment in skills and training was established.
  • In 2010 the European Commission drew on the UKCI concepts and methodologies to design the first EU Regional Competitiveness Index.

About the research

In 2000 Professor Robert Huggins (then Senior Research Associate) from Cardiff University developed the UK Competitiveness Index (UKCI), which quantifies the relative economic competitiveness of the UK's regions and localities. As well as measuring how attractive different regions of the UK are to businesses and firms, it also measures the economic welfare of individuals and how much business success increases the economic value and wealth for the citizens.

Building on initial research with ESRC funding, his model went beyond previous approaches which had focused solely on single economic measures such as GDP. Instead, it included a suite of measures, such as economic activity rate, business start-up rates, employment and unemployment rates, gross weekly pay, productivity and Gross Value Added per capita. The index allows policymakers to better understand the underlying causes behind variations in economic performance across regions.

Following the success of UKCI, in 2002 Professor Huggins and Dr Hiro Izushi (at Aston Business School) developed the World Knowledge Competitiveness Index, an integrated benchmark of knowledge capacity, capability and sustainability regions across the word. This was followed by a third model, the European Competitiveness Index, which focuses on examining the competitiveness of Europe's regions and nations.