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NPL and UKRI investment for innovation in time resilience, dissemination and application.
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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 Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The science programmes are carried out by the UK’s 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 BEIS
  • National Gears Metrology Laboratory (NGML)
  • National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC)

NPL, the UK’s National Metrology Institute (NMI) and owned by BEIS, 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.

The quality of work produced by the NMS is recognised as world-leading, contributing to the UK’s science superpower status.

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 BEIS.
  • 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

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