The role of policy is often misunderstood, either revered as a panacea or despised as a barrier to change. This is especially true in the process of regional transformation. This article develops a case of economic development policy as an adaptive and improvisational process: effective policy is endogenous and the result of negotiations and power relationships. Transforming a regional economy involves myriad policy actions so subtle and so numerous that they can easily be overlooked. The article conceptualises effective policy as the continuous culmination of programmatic adjustments in response to changing conditions, and opportunistic pivots to adjust to new circumstances. Creating innovative, entrepreneurial ecosystems challenge our existing economic models and suggest that complexity requires new conceptualisations of policy and planning.