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Smart Specialisation is a successful innovation policy concept which has become a cornerstone of the European cohesion policy and also addresses several of the Sustainable Development Goals. However, the early implementation of SmartSpec policies has raised concerns among scholars and policy makers, who have pointed to a number of gaps in its conceptualisation, design and implementation. POLISS (“Policies for Smart Specialisation”) will tackle these gaps with the aim of making the design, implementation and evaluation of Smart Spec policies more effective in Europe. POLISS is a joint collaboration of 8 leading European academic institutions and 14 partners spanning local governments, development agencies, international organizations, research institutes and private companies. POLISS brings together a diverse set of actors from all the fields contributing to SmartSpec; therefore it adopts a multidisciplinary approach by integrating their insights and knowledge. Building on their expertise and everyday engagement with SmartSpec policies, POLISS aims at: a) providing new systematic evidence and methodological tools to scholars, policy makers and local practitioners for designing and assessing SmartSpec actions in EU regions and beyond; b) building a PhD programme where a new generation of experts in regional development and innovation policy will be trained and once graduated will be possibly employed in regional, national and European private or public organisations that work on regional development and innovation; c) providing a forum for coordinating the vast community of researchers and practitioners working on local development and innovation, which is often sparse and fragmented.