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NPL at the Royal Institution of Great Britain


National Measurement System

Providing confidence for science, innovation and trade

The National Measurement System (NMS) is an essential part of the UK’s research and innovation infrastructure, critical for science and trade. The NMS programmes deliver the UK’s Measurement Strategy, developed in consultation across industry, academia and Government.

The NMS is delivered through the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology. The science programmes are carried out by the UK’s designated measurement institutes:

  • National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
  • National Measurement Laboratory (NML) at LGC
  • National Engineering Laboratory (TUV-NEL)
  • Office for Product and Safety and Standards (OPSS), part of the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology
  • National Gears Metrology Laboratory (NGML)
  • National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC)

NPL, the UK’s National Metrology Institute (NMI) and owned by the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology, delivers the large majority of the programmes.

The NMS enables the UK to compete in global trade and manufacturing by ensuring consistency and recognition of measurement units and standards throughout the world. Internationally leading knowledge and expertise is passed on to UK stakeholders by a coordinated programme of knowledge transfer.

  • Every year, 74,000 UK businesses demonstrate traceability to UK standards through calibrations originating at the NMS laboratories.
  • In 2019, the NMS laboratories undertook collaborative projects with 954 businesses, leveraged income of £40.84m from collaborative R&D and consultancy.
  • The NMS also supports the UK’s drive to influence international standards, delivering 83 new or amended standards in 2019.

2023 NMS Qualitative Research Study

NPL has just kicked off the National Measurement System (NMS) qualitative research study. Private business customers who have provided their consent to take part in this study will be contacted. If you receive a call regarding the study in the near future, please rest assured that such a call is legitimate, and we really encourage you to respond. Further details can be found here.

The study is being conducted by an external consultant, Briscoe Advisory Ltd, on behalf of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, with an aim to better understand the value of the NMS, and how it differs across national challenge areas. Please click here for information on the NMS Evaluation Framework.

If you have any questions please contact :

NPL economist contact - Dharani Katanguru

External consultant contact – Philip Briscoe

The National Measurement System (NMS) Survey for private businesses is now closed.

Thank you to all our customers who have provided answers to our survey. We really appreciate your contributions.

Download our infographic showing the impact of NPL and the National Measurement System

A strategy for measurement in the UK

The NMS underpins key policies, regulations and operational requirements across government. For example, by enabling:

  • Assured food, air and water quality measurement for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Environment Agency and Food Standards Agency.
  • Safe and quality assured medical diagnosis and treatment in the NHS for the Department of Health and Social Care.
  • Assurance of breath alcohol measurement and of critical infrastructure monitoring for the Department for Transport.
  • Traceable measurements to support homeland and national security for the Home Office and Ministry of Defence.
  • National greenhouse gas inventories, observations of emissions in the UK and accelerating the development and uptake of low-carbon technology for the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology.
  • Measurements for the accurate taxation of, for example, oil and gas production for HM Treasury.

The UK Measurement Strategy describes how the UK will capitalise on its world-leading National Measurement System. Extraordinary innovation can be realised when the right measurement practices are applied and high quality measurement can increase investment in R&D by giving confidence to investors and de-risking the innovation journey. Measurement also helps to grow key, high tech sectors by enabling companies to assure quality, comply with regulations and trade internationally.

Find out more about the UK Measurement Strategy 


Other NMS organisations

Office for Product safety and Standards

Work with us

Our research and measurement solutions support innovation and product development. We work with companies to deliver business advantage and commercial success.
Contact our Customer Services team on +44 20 8943 7070