By drawing on the Schumpeterian distinction between invention (i.e., new ideas and knowledge creation) and commercialization of new ideas (i.e., innovation), this paper shows that knowledge and innovation are both important drivers of economic growth, but have heterogeneous spatial impacts. In particular, the growth benefits accruing from knowledge seem rather selective and concentrated across space whereas the growth benefits generated by innovation seem more diffusive, and regions innovating in the absence of a strong local knowledge base can be as successful as more knowledge-intensive regions in turning innovation into a higher growth rate, possibly by exploiting local informal knowledge and/or knowledge spillovers. These results are of great importance for the design of research and innovation policies within the frame of the Europe 2020 strategy.