In Australia, the federal (central) and State (regional) governments share constitutional responsibility for aspects of science and innovation policy. In practice, the federal government has tended to overshadow the States both in funding and policy for research and innovation. It can be argued that we are now seeing the strong rebirth of regionalism (at least at the State level) as far as government support for science, technology and knowledge-based industries is concerned. The paper traces the growth of regional innovation policies through examples of initiatives from South Australia and other regions and examines the respective contributions of the State and federal governments. The character of State government support has evolved over the last 15 years, from sponsoring grand ‘technology citadels’ to today’s strategies that take a more bottom-up approach to building intense innovation environments, local clusters and knowledge hubs. Some of these trends reflect the influence of the global knowledge economy on regional industries, while others (notably the relative decline of the federal government as an R&D performer) are peculiarities of the Australian innovation system. The outcome is a significant evolution in Australia’s innovation system, one which parallels responses to globalisation in other countries and suggests a different – but not diminished – role for public sector innovation policy.