The ’beneficial’ effect of R&D networks on regional knowledge creation is widely acknowledged. They constitute essential means to create new knowledge through collaborative research efforts and enable access to new knowledge by bridging the way to region-external knowledge bases. However, we argue that the effects of R&D networks on regional knowledge creation vary for different modes of knowledge creation – exploitative and explorative – as well as for the quantity and quality of knowledge created. To explore these differences across European regions, we estimate a set of spatial Durbin models (SDMs) with altering network indicators. The results show that EU funded networks are in general a significant driver for both modes of knowledge creation. Whereas, we find a higher positive impact of networks on explorative than on exploitative knowledge creation for the quantity of knowledge output, the opposite is true for knowledge quality.