This paper analyses the evolution of regional innovation policy into the mainstream of public policy. The paper examines the empirical and theoretical developments which have shifted much of the focus on innovation-related issues to matters of economic geography. As well as academic material we also review the literature on the subject produced by the international development institutions. In terms of policy, special attention is devoted to the role of local market failures and local institutions in explaining the importance and need for regional innovation policies, and the advent of the smart specialisation agenda is discussed. Finally, the paper discusses the current regional innovation policy tools and interventions observed around the world, which are seen by international institutions as examples of best practice.