The creative economy is a complex assemblage of policy, practice and industrial activity, underpinned by apparently novel configurations of cultural and creative work. In recent years, it has become the focus of a number of schemes which have seen major shifts in how UK research councils fund universities. This paper reflects on the work of Research and Enterprise in Arts and Creative Technology (REACT), a major knowledge exchange programme aimed at stimulating growth in the creative sector through collaborations with universities in South West England and South Wales. In the first section, I unpack some of the underpinning logics of the ‘creative turn’ by which creativity has become a key currency in modern economies. I then consider how this shift has affected universities. I next ask how the various rationalities of an economy driven by creativity have moved into the knowledge exchange sphere. I approach this by formulating creative economy policy as a form of governmentality performed through assemblages that facilitate policy transfer. The paper turns to the empirical example of REACT, considering it as an assemblage through which reconfigurations of discourses, spatialities, temporalities, subjects and calculative practices have unfolded. The analysis shows how the multivalent, ad hoc and sometimes contradictory experience of producing an assemblage such as REACT means that policy transfer is never entirely complete nor stable, and that in this sense it is still possible for knowledge exchange programmes to imagine and generate alternative approaches to creativity that are not wholly reducible to a neoliberal or capitalist logic, although they remain implicated therein.