Competitiveness is one of the most debated issues in policy circles. But, what triggers it? Capitalising on the first existing harmonised cross-country dataset measuring the entire range of international activities of firms in seven European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom), we first confirm a number well-established results of the firm heterogeneity literature. Secondly, and more importantly, we identify several innovational, financial, organizational and managerial triggers of competitiveness at firm level. Finally, we argue that enhancing-competitiveness policymaking could be improved by firm-level evidence if there were less reluctance to the use of micro-founded indicators to inform policy decisions.