UKRI announces new funding for Prosper

UKRI has announced that it will be providing an additional £450k of funding for Prosper, the postdoc career development initiative.

The funding, spread over three years, will help accelerate Prosper’s adoption at institutions across the UK following its sector-wide rollout this summer. The announcement was made by Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Executive Chair of Research England, at the Prosper showcase event at The Spine, Liverpool, on 23rd May 2023.

The first initiative of its kind, Prosper is a new approach to career development that unlocks postdocs’ potential to thrive in multiple career pathways.

It is led by the University of Liverpool, working alongside partners at the University of Manchester and Lancaster University.

The Prosper showcase event celebrated the completion of the development and pilot phase of Prosper, involving more than 120 postdocs from across its partner institutions.

Prosper will be officially launched in the summer of 2023, at which point its model and resources will become freely available to Higher Education and Research Institutions across the UK. Attendees were given a preview of Prosper’s new online hub, The Prosper Portal, and were informed about Prosper’s plans to drive nationwide adoption post-launch.

Professor Dame Jessica delivered a session discussing the importance of putting research culture on a more collaborative, people-development-focused footing, and the timeliness of the Prosper roll-out in relation to this. She underlined the UKRI’s commitment to Prosper, announcing an additional £450k from UKRI to support its mission to embed Prosper at Higher Education and research institutions up and down the country, and ensure its availability across the UK.

Professor Dame Jessica, Executive Chair, Research England, said: “People are absolutely core to a vibrant research and innovation culture, and a major priority for UKRI and the wider sector. The UK’s postdoctoral community is a diverse pool of world-class talent. With the right support, postdoctoral researchers will play a key role in tackling the myriad social, economic, and scientific challenges of today and tomorrow, driving excellence both within academia and wherever their careers may take them.

“What Prosper has built in this regard is very impressive, and the impact it has had on postdoctoral researchers in its pilot phase is extremely promising. I believe Prosper can play a leading role in driving best practice in developing postdoctoral research careers and strongly encourage research institutions across the UK to adopt and make use of Prosper resources.”

Professor Anthony Hollander, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research & Impact, University of Liverpool, said: “It’s great to see just how far Prosper has come since its inception. All the co-creation, testing and refining has culminated in a genuinely unique offering in the postdoc career development space – a rich and comprehensive set of resources designed for postdocs as postdocs, crafted in close collaboration with our partner institutions, the wider sector, employers, and of course postdocs themselves.

“I’ve seen first-hand the transformative impact Prosper has had on the postdocs involved in our pilots. Now that offering will become freely available to postdocs and institutions up and down the country. I’m confident Prosper can act as a gold standard for the sector from the get-go.”

During her visit, Dame Jessica visited the University of Liverpool’s flagship facility, the Materials Innovation Factory (MIF) developed in partnership with Unilever. She was greeted by a number of University senior representatives and Unilever’s Research and Development Director, Paul Jenkins. The visit highlighted how the University through the MIF is acting as an anchor institution to bring together the local innovation ecosystem and collaborate with large and small industry players to create new products and support economic growth. An important element of this work is a commitment to inspire future generations into science and innovation.

You can find out more about Prosper at this link. Further details on Prosper case studies can be found here.

Professor Andy Cooper and Professor Dame Jessica Corner during the visit to the MIF