For more than two decades economic geographers and others have been examining the reasons why some places are more innovative than others. Policy makers have also been actively involved, as they try to develop their countries and regions through innovation and knowledge. In this paper I will address three criticisms that have been made to this literature and suggest avenues of research that could help address them. These criticisms are: the neglect of power asymmetries at the international and intra-regional levels between economic and other relevant agents, and their impact on the evolution of regional economies; the excessive focus on the region and the neglect of the multi-scalar nature of innovation; the emphasis on networks and systems which masks heterogeneity and fragmentation at the local level. Finally I will also discuss some of the more recent guidelines for place-based policy making in this field. Overall my objective is to contribute to the literature on territorial innovation systems by suggesting how these concepts can be improved.