This chapter analyses the potential of intermediate cities to become recognised frontrunners in policy innovation and diffusion. It draws from research in the field of disaster risk management (DRM) in two Latin American cities, Santa Fe in Argentina and Manizales in Colombia. The authors depart from acknowledging that innovative DRM practices in these cities have been overly looked at in research and policy. However, the contribution of these consolidated and innovative cities to discourses of intermediate and medium-sized cities remains overlooked. Literature on intermediate cities provides a useful lens to analyse Santa Fe’s and Manizales’s policy innovation and diffusion because it helps revealing underpinning governance capacities. Through comparative analysis, the chapter triggers a nuanced and relational conversation about the mechanisms that have enabled these two intermediate cities to build and operationalise their capacities while becoming champions in DRM. The chapter finds that capacities in both cities are inherently relational, linked to economic connectivity and mobility, a compact social and institutional fabric and well-established educational and knowledge networks. These findings contribute to nurturing situated learning from innovative cities that are overlooked in dominant narratives around vulnerabilities and growing development challenges in many medium-sized cities in the global South.