This paper critically assesses recent place-based approaches to industrial and regional policy epitomised in the EU’s 2020 ‘smart specialisation’ programme. It suggests that these are a move in the right direction in so far as they acknowledge ‘place’ as a key, constituent part of policymaking. Drawing upon examples from across the world, we emphasise the importance of regions pursuing strategies that allow them to capture—in a sustainable way—a part of the value they help create and co-create with other entities, such as multinational firms and other organisations. This involves policymakers acting as public entrepreneurs, devising and implementing strategies, structures and policies to enable the regional ecosystem and its constituent parts to capture value sustainably. In addition to the extant focus on linkages and embeddedness, a key aspect of this involves the adoption of regional value capture and positioning strategies.