"Calls for better use of scientific evidence to inform policy decisions stem from the belief that enhanced outcomes for the society can be expected. Yet, the introduction of evidence-based practices in innovation policymaking has not come without criticism. This introductory article sets the scene for the short collection of papers that address specific issues regarding the prospect of better evidence-based policy in the area of industrial research and innovation (IRI). It identifies and discusses key challenges for the transition towards evidence-based IRI policy. It then introduces the three papers, which build upon and depart from related assumptions or narratives reflecting the current state of practices in IRI policy."