Skip to main content
Professor Robert Huggins

Professor Robert Huggins

Professor of Economic Geography, Director of Research and Innovation

School of Geography and Planning

+44 (0)29 2087 6006
Room 2.65, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA
Media commentator


Professor Robert Huggins was appointed as Chair of Economic Geography at Cardiff University and Director of its Centre for Economic Geography in September 2011. Prior to this he held a chair at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (2008-2011), and a Senior Lectureship at the University of Sheffield (2005-2008). He also has private sector experience managing a research and management consultancy.



  • PhD Regional Economic Development, Cardiff University (1998)
  • MSc Technical Change & Regional Development, Cardiff University (1992)
  • BA (Hons) Social Anthropology, University of Kent at Canterbury (1987)


Founding Director of the Centre for International Competitiveness at the Cardiff School of Management, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff and Professor of Management and Policy (2008-2011).
Senior Lecturer in Enterprise and Regional Development and Director of Regional Development at the Centre for Regional Economic and Enterprise Development, the Management School, University of Sheffield (2005-2008).
Head of a management and research consultancy focusing on the economics of competitiveness and the development of the knowledge economy (2000-2004).
Senior Research Associate, Cardiff University (1998-2000).

Memberships / External Activities

Professor Huggins is also an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield, and has held honorary positions at a number of other institutions and is currently an elected member of the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Peer Review College. Alongside his academic research, he has a strong consultancy track record working for international bodies such as the European Commission, the OECD, as well as UK national government, regional authorities and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. His work in the area of regional competitiveness has allowed him to establish a reputation internationally, particularly as the co-founder of the World Knowledge Competitiveness Index (established in 2002) initiative and the founder of the European Competitiveness Index initiative, both of which have become highly influential and cited regional benchmarking instruments in the field of regional economic development.

At a national level, his research formed part of the deliberations of the UK Government's first White Paper and formed part of the debates of the Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. His research has also resulted in his being invited as a plenary speaker at a number of international conferences. Also, as a management consultant in the field of economic development, he has developed a significant profile both in the UK and overseas relating to the improvement and furthering of effective public policy.

He has acted as a referee many peer reviewed journals including: Regional Studies; Research Policy; European Planning Studies; Economic Development Quarterly, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development; Environment and Planning; European Urban and Regional Studies; Growth and Change; International Small Business Journal, International Journal of Innovation and Regional Development.


























Professor Huggins's areas of interest highlight regional economic development, in particular the study of clusters and competitiveness, knowledge flows, entrepreneurship, innovation, and inter-organisational networks. Research projects focus on regional competitiveness; inward investment; the knowledge economy and high-technology industry; the culture of entrepreneurship and business development; and the development and mobilisation of knowledge and skills. He is the originator of the European Competitiveness Index, the UK Competitiveness Index and co-founder of the World Knowledge Competitiveness Index.


Community Culture and Economic Development: Perspectives from Wales - Welsh Assembly Government New Ideas Fund (2010-2011) - £10,000 (Principal Investigator).

International Knowledge Sourcing Study - National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts - NESTA (2009) - £70,000 (Principal Investigator).

Regional Innovation and Absorptive Capacity - National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts - NESTA (2008) - £20,000 (Principal Investigator).

Higher Education Institution Knowledge and its Impact on Regional Competitiveness - Economic and Social Research Council (2007-2009) - £177,000 (FEC) (Principal Investigator).

Analysis of the Impact of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships on Business/Industry - Economic and Social Research Council (2006-2007) - £9,600 (co-applicant).

Regions of Knowledge 2 - Managing and Infusing Research Investment and Development (MIRIAD) - European Commission Framework Programme 6 (2005-2006) - £457,000 (Project co-ordinator).

Knowledge Infusion and Technology Transfer in the Western Balkans - Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2005-2006) - £27,000 (Joint co-ordinator).