The recent craze among policymakers for innovation and regional economic development is no accident. It results from recent, widespread analyses highlighting innovation as the main factor in economic growth and the region as the most appropriate level at which to stimulate and support innovation. This article aims to show how the territorial impact of economic changes in a heightened competitive context has served to (re‐)activate interplay between local actors whose ambition is to support and strengthen innovation within regions. It sets out to decode the processes and the mechanisms through which a region develops, the modes of governance established to support and promote these processes and the relationships formed by various actors in a region. We analyse two regions that we describe as ‘satellite’ regions: Mechanic Valley in France and Beauce in Canada. Each of these regions has, over a period of some ten years, seen processes marked both by increasingly strong anchoring in the local territory and by greater openness to the outside, and both have benefited from their relative proximity to the metropolitan areas of Toulouse and Québec, respectively. So we view them as typifying the emergence of new features of territorial development.