Traditional approach to regional integration/ co-operation mainly focuses on free flow of goods & services, investment, people, and standardization. We argue that if the interactions take place between the members of a regional bloc or between the regional economic pole and its neighbours on the basis of static comparative advantage where the economies in the region transact what they already produce, then the relationship is likely to be non-dynamic and non-transformative. On the other hand, if the interaction takes place with economic linkages where the interaction promotes Knowledge, Learning, Innovation, and Competence building (KLICs), and facilitates value added manufactures and service exchanges, then the relationship is likely to be transformative with developmental features. Therefore, we argue that using innovation conception will strengthen regional integration/ cooperation than using traditional model mainly based on free trade. That is, we argue that the reciprocal interaction between national innovation systems (NSI) of larger (‘Regional Economic Poles’) and smaller economies strengthening regional integration/ co-operation within the respective regions can be conceptualized and studied by employing innovation system perspective. The paper is exploratory and it uses the case of China & ASEAN to illustrate the usefulness of the Neighbourhood System of Innovation conceptual framework for strengthening and achieving, what we would argue, ‘Intelligent’ regional integration/ co-operation around the world.