This article provides an overview of the main trends in the development of the theory of innovation. Its relevance is stemmed from the growing role of innovation as a factor of modern progress, as well as its close connection with the problems of socio-economic development. There are discovered three of the following destinations within modern innovation theory: deepening understanding of innovation as a driver of contemporary socio-economic development; study on the relationship of innovation and socio-economic cycles; identify features of forming of territorial systems of innovation. The author pays special attention to the period 2000-mid 2010, characterized by understanding innovation as a determinant of contemporary socio-economic development. It is emphasized the strengthening of the role of innovation in addressing topical issues such as the modernization of production, competitiveness and productivity growth, the effective use of scientific and technological capacity, increased quality of life, etc. Reviewed by the contribution of the Ural economists in developing theoretical and methodical aspects of regional innovation systems, including in support of the role of innovation as a factor for self-development of the region, creation of a system of indicators that reflect the status of the regional innovation system, developing methodologies for selecting priorities for innovation development for regions with different production and technological capabilities. The scientific novelty of this work is in support of the approach of theory innovation as metateory, reflecting the regularities and features global transformational changes modern socio-economic systems, resulting from the transformation of innovation into the decisive factor for the socio-economic dynamics, as well as in the justification for methodological role theory of innovation as a basis for building an effective strategy for socio-economic development.