Future operation of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL)

These documents have been brought together to inform stakeholders of developments surrounding the future operation of the NPL.


  1. Documents

NPL Management Limited transfers to new ownership

As of January 1 2015 the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) enters into a new and closer relationship with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the new owner of NPL Management Limited.

Scientific research is often limited by what can practically be measured. This is one of the factors making NPL a critical national asset. NPL’s research pushes the boundaries of measurement and works with industry to apply this knowledge for the benefit of the UK economy.

The move to government ownership is an important step in achieving the government aims set out at the start of this change programme, which were to:

  • bring greater expertise and intellectual flexibility to strengthen the laboratory’s science
  • make better use of NPL’s existing facilities by strengthening the laboratory’s links with its academic partners, through new and existing collaborations with academia and industry
  • encourage greater interaction with business, driven by closer integration of existing innovation infrastructure and commercial activity
  • make better use of the site at Teddington by granting partners access to spare capacity
  • allow for the formation of a dedicated applied science postgraduate institute.

BIS is currently continuing its discussions with the Universities of Surrey and Strathclyde to develop the strategic partnership which will help achieve these aims.

Previous updates

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science announced the preferred partners of NPL on 10 July 2014.

David Willetts said:

“Following a formal competitive process, I have decided that the Universities of Surrey and Strathclyde will become preferred partners and will now work with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and National Physical Laboratory (NPL) to develop a strategic partnership to lead NPL into the next exciting phase in its future. The partners’ proposal provide the best opportunity to meet the aims set at the beginning of this process. The partnership will help to boost NPL’s and the partners’ scientific excellence, will strengthen engagement with business, and will make more of the facilities and the site. An important focus will be to develop activity to support postgraduate research and training at Teddington and across the UK.”

Proposals have now been received from those bidding to be involved in the future operation of NPL. The bidding groups are headed by the organisations identified (below) at the end of last year. This marks the start of the assessment process to identify a preferred bidder and the competition is now closed.

The Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts informed the House of Commons (via a Written Ministerial Statement) in November 2012 of his decision on the future operation of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). The Minister wants to build on the success of NPL, and is keen to strengthen the world class science carried out at NPL and its ability to support innovative businesses. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) launched the process to identify the initial partner to work with BIS in the future operation of the NPL in July 2013.

The 4 organisations selected to lead the formation of Bidding Groups are:

  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of Surrey