This paper studies the relationship between the innovation performance of European regions and their resilience. By exploiting a novel dataset that includes patents and trademarks at the regional (NUTS2) level for the 2008–2016 period, the paper addresses two research questions: (1) are innovative regions more resilient? (2) which type of innovation is more conducive to resilience? We frame the relationship between resilience and innovation within the Schumpeterian notion of innovation as a ‘creative response in history’. Overall, we find that a stronger performance in innovation is associated with a better performance in employment both during and in the aftermarket of the 2008 financial crisis. We argue that learning capabilities built over time by regions make them more effective in adapting and recovering during major shocks. While the crisis may have created an opportunity for less developed regions to move ahead, this opportunity has in fact been grasped mainly by those already having a strong regional system of innovation in place.