‘Adaptive capability’ describes the ability to respond to external shocks and take advantage of new opportunities. Central to this is path dependency and the scope for turning historic strengths to new purposes. This article explores the emergence of a nascent bioscience cluster in Nottingham. A novel analytical device based on Kingdon’s Multiple Streams Framework is applied to explore the emergence of a new development path in this city. Local actors used a window of opportunity created by contingencies at the level of industries, firms and place to create a development path mobilizing legacy assets, including physical and human capital.