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 will achieve this by co-creating a sector-leading postdoc career development model which will be rolled-out across UK HEIs from Summer 2023.

Our team are working with postdocs at the University of Liverpool and our partner institutions to pilot a range of development interventions, methods and approaches. Lessons learned from these pilots will inform how we package up and curate the resources to create our ultimate output – an innovative and

flexible new model of postdoc career development that will be made freely available to the sector via the Prosper Portal.

We work closely with key stakeholder groups both within and beyond academia. Our broad range of employer partners are helping us to understand and respond to the opportunities within and demands of the UK economy and to shape development interventions accordingly. Through our PI network and related activities, we are working with PIs to equip them with the tools to optimise their support of the postdocs they manage. Collaboration with a range of research funders and research staff developers at HEIs across the UK and beyond is helping to ensure that the ultimate Prosper model is fit for purpose and adaptable to the diverse needs of the UK postdoc community.

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, we launched the second Prosper pilot, comprising 79 postdocs from the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Lancaster. We use a range of ongoing evaluation methods to ensure that key lessons from the cohorts are continuously embedded into reiterations of Prosper.

To date, we’ve engaged over 430 individuals in the co-creation of Prosper via a range of methods and activities including: consultations, focus groups and workshops. We’ve engaged over 146 individuals associated with 99 employers; over 120 PIs have taken part in our PI network activities; 129 postdocs have been recruited to take part in one of our career development pilots. We’ve also been working with a range of other HEIs, research funders and other key stakeholders in the researcher development space.

What's next?

Over the next year, our dual focus is on delivering a high-quality experience to our second pilot cohort, while ensuring that we continuously extract and embed key lessons learnt from the pilots and our broader stakeholder engagement in order to develop the final Prosper model. Our outputs will be made available to the broader HE sector from Summer 2023.

We are already working with several HEI partners who are keen to become ‘early adopters’ of Prosper and we are revisiting our stakeholder engagement and communications strategies in order to prepare for the successful roll-out and embedding of the Prosper model across the UK.

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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