About Prosper

Prosper is a new approach to career development that unlocks postdocs’ potential to thrive in multiple career pathways.

Our ultimate goal is to open up the huge talent pool that exists within the postdoctoral research community, to the benefit of postdocs themselves, Principal Investigators, employers and the wider UK economy.

We have developed a new, sector-leading model for postdoc career development, for rollout across UK HEIs from summer 2023: Prosper - A New Model for Postdoc Career Development

Once launched, all our content and resources will become freely available to all, along with our new online hub - The Prosper Portal – currently in development.

Our offering is the result of four years’ close collaboration and co-creation with employers, research institutions, Principal Investigators, and postdocs themselves.

Prosper is tried and tested. From 2021-23 we piloted a range of development interventions, methods and approaches, working with over 120 postdocs across two pilot cohorts, drawn from across the University of Liverpool, University of Manchester and Lancaster University – evaluating their impact along the way. Our cohorts were carefully selected to meet the principles of EDI, and reflect the diversity of the UK’s postdoc community in terms of gender, ethnicity, and field of study. (Learn more about our pilot cohorts)

Throughout the development of our model, we’ve sought to embed the perspectives and insights of key stakeholder groups both within and beyond academia.

We’ve worked closely with over 100 employer partners to shape and inform our resources, and ensure Prosper’s relevance to the opportunities and demands of the wider economic landscape. (Learn more about our partnerships with employers)

We recognise the critical role Principal Investigators have to play in nurturing postdoc potential. Through our PI Network and related activities, we work with PIs to equip them with the tools and support they need to optimise their own support of the postdocs they manage, and to share best practice with other PIs. (Learn more about the role of Principal Investigators in Prosper)

And we’ve collaborated extensively along with the way with the wider UK HE sector, working with research funders and research staff and organisational developers at institutions across the country to ensure Prosper is fit for purpose, adaptable to the diverse needs of the UK postdoc community, and to support early adoption following our national rollout. (If you’re keen to get your organisation involved, do get in touch!)

All of this has been in service of creating the final Prosper model, which will be launched nationwide in the summer of 2023. This will draw together all of the outputs from our two pilot cohorts, alongside our work with employers and Principal Investigators. In addition to resources for postdocs and Principal Investigators, the final offering will include additional materials and guidance for Higher Education institutions, designed to enable organisations to use Prosper in a flexible way, according to their varying needs and internal resources. The contents will be freely available to all.

Prosper is led by the University of Liverpool, working alongside our partners at the University of Manchester and Lancaster University, and is funded by the Research England RED fund.

Progress so far

Prosper was launched in October 2019. In June 2020, we launched our initial set of development resources via the Prosper portal. These resources are organised around the three key themes of “Reflect”, “Explore” and “Act” and include a suite of curated self-reflection and diagnostic tools, case studies from former postdocs, PIs and employers and resources which support postdocs to identify their skills and to showcase these to a range of employers.

In March 2021, following an extensive recruitment and selection process, 53 University of Liverpool postdocs joined the first year-long Prosper Pilot. Participants gained access to a range of additional resources and initiatives, including individual and group coaching, commissioned development interventions across the key themes of “leadership”, “creativity” and “communication” and insights into the broad range of career opportunities beyond academia curated around a set of “career clusters”.


In February 2022, Prosper went multi-institutional. We launched the second Prosper pilot, comprising 75 postdocs from the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Lancaster. During the first few months the Prosper team also crunched the numbers and feedback from our first pilot, in order to produce a comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of its impact. The lessons learned from our first pilot played a critical role in shaping the contents and resources on offer in our second – it is over the course of this second pilot that our forthcoming national public offering took its current shape.

The second pilot came to a successful close in February 2023, with a virtual celebration event bringing together our cohort 2 postdocs, PIs and stakeholders to mark the occasion.


What's next?

With our pilots successfully completed, we are entering the final few months of this phase of Prosper. Our focus is squarely on our national launch in the summer of 2023, at which point the Prosper approach will become freely available to the whole UK HE sector.

We are developing our new Prosper portal, which will go live at the same time. This will be full of accessible, easily-searchable content and resources, drawing on all of our work from our pilots, our employer engagement, work with PIs, and the wider sector. As well as content for postdocs themselves, it will have resources for PIs/Managers of Researchers as well as Higher Education Institutions, including guidance and ready-made materials to support the use of Prosper across the country, according to the varying budgets and needs of organisations.

Much as the lessons and feedback from our first pilot informed our second, we’re also busy evaluating the impact of our second pilot cohort, and drawing on these lessons to shape our final approach come launch.

At the same time, we are currently working with several HEI partners to support early adoption of Prosper from the summer onwards. More broadly we are continuing to solicit feedback and input from the wider sector to ensure Prosper is as useful as possible from the get-go.

This institutional outreach will continue well past launch. While the launch may mark the end of the development phase of Prosper, it is far from the end of Prosper’s journey. Prosper has guaranteed support for at least the next decade, and several of Prosper’s key team members will continue to work full-time on Prosper, the portal and to support nationwide roll out. Just as the pilots have been used to improve and refine our current offering, the feedback, input and examples of usage post-launch will be used to improve and update Prosper on an ongoing, iterative basis.

The feedback so far from other institutions has been positive and enthusiastic – there is a real hunger for this sort of intervention in the current climate. We intend to meet this enthusiasm with substance and take a pro-active role in supporting the use of Prosper in institutions across the UK. Prosper is not a one-time static set of resources – we intend to take a leading, gold-standard role in cultivating best practice in postdoc career development nationwide, into the next decade and beyond.

The distinctiveness of Prosper is that we will develop it in conjunction with employers, Principal Investigators, funders, other HEIs and postgraduate researchers, with a range of partners across universities, business, and local government having committed to sharing their expertise in developing...high-performing technical and business leaders.

Professor Anthony Hollander, PVC for Research & Impact, University of Liverpool

Our partners and funder

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