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Annual review 2018/19

We deliver extraordinary impact and in our annual review you will see many examples of excellent measurement science and engineering

Pete Thompson

CEO's introduction

Our vision is to deliver extraordinary impact from excellent science and engineering as an exemplary national laboratory. I have been delighted with our many achievements that show how we are making progress towards this vision.

It was an honour to witness therevision of the International System of Units (SI), so that all SI units are now defined in terms of constants that describe the natural world. This was a historic, once in a lifetime change; with scientists working at NPL over many decades making pivotal scientific contributions as part of this worldwide collaboration. The late Bryan Kibble, who developed the Watt balance while working at NPL, was internationally recognised as a critical contributor to the revision, and in recognition of this, the SI community renamed the Watt
balance as the Kibble balance. 


Dr Peter Thompson, Chief Executive Officer


Download the full annual review

National challenges

Our science and engineering is focused on developing solutions for some of the biggest national and international challenges.

National challenges 2018-19

At NPL we apply our science and engineering knowledge and work with business, governments, researchers and others to address these challenges and opportunities, with a focus on the challenges in: advanced manufacturing, digital, energy and environment, and life sciences and health. With a specific focus on global trends which will transform our future, like: artificial intelligence and data; ageing society; clean growth; and future of mobility.


We provide advice and information to industry, regulators and academia on a range of international metrology issues. We represent the UK, both at a technical level and at the highest level of metrology, on many international networks and committees.

We have more than 440 world-class laboratories, which enable the highest precision measurements to be realised. We contribute to the UK’s National Measurement System and deliver new advancements that deliver real impact on prosperity and quality of life. Home to over 650 scientists employed across almost every discipline, from physicists to biochemists, and mathematicians to materials scientists, we push the boundaries of what is possible.

We carry out research covering a wide variety of disciplines and areas:

Acoustics ♦ Biosciences ♦ Chemical analysis ♦ Communications ♦ Data science ♦ Engineering  ♦ Environmental monitoring ♦ Graphene ♦ Ionising radiation ♦ Materials ♦ Medical physics ♦ Quantum ♦ Time and frequency

Research highlights 2018-19


Working with companies

As the UK’s National Measurement Institute, NPL uses measurements and standards to enable science and engineering to work seamlessly and markets to operate smoothly. Working across a wide range of scientific disciplines, we help organisations to:

  • Continuously innovate to remain profitable and competitive
  • Comply with quality system requirements
  • Understand their manufacturing processes or materials characteristics.

We enable industry to use a common language to measure and evaluate performance, ensure interoperability of components made by different companies, and we protect consumers by ensuring safety, durability and conformance to specification.

Working with companies 2018-19

Skills and learning across the UK

Skills and learning

With more than a century of experience, we pride ourselves on our world-class measurement skills. We enable UK industry to benefit from these vital skills by providing businesses with training. Ranging from early interest to expert level, we help to improve quality, productivity and global competitiveness. 

Skills and learning 2018-19


NPL is expanding the community we work with, to help more businesses and organisations to prosper and progress through exposure to our world-leading research, facilities and people. Our regional network provides local access to NPL's expertise, providing significant benefit to UK industry, especially SMEs.

We are located in Scotland, North of England, East of England and South of England, where we bring our expertise to work with the local industries.

Place 2018-19

A successful and diverse workforce

Breaking new ground in science

Over 1,000 scientists, engineers and skilled professionals work together to deliver our exceptional science and engineering work. Meet some of our people to learn more about the drive behind the work we do.


People 2018-19

Diversity, equality and inclusion

NPL is committed to creating a fair and inclusive environment where every individual can feel valued. We believe that we all profit from the different perspectives that the wide range of people in our organisation brings. We encourage a culture where everyone can enjoy working and perform at their best, for the advancement of science and the benefit of all.

Diversity equality and inclusion 2018-19


In 2018 NPL published 359 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals as well as several which have been highlighted for their scientific contribution.

Publications 2018-19

Strategic partners

The University of Strathclyde and the University of Surrey, have been engaged by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as partners within NPL's operating model. The partnership enables us to work more closely with the academic community and is the basis of our Postgraduate Institute for Measurement Science, which is creating the next generation of world-class measurement scientists. 

Strategic partners

The partnership means that the two universities and NPL collaborate to bring together their track record of working with business and industry and their complementary academic strengths, making a step change in capability, influence and impact. The partnership includes:

  • Joint working in areas such as space, healthcare and industrial applications of metrology.
  • Developing a presence for NPL, in partnership with other organisations, across the UK through regional hubs; bringing expertise and services closer to user communities who can benefit.
  • Creating a vibrant research community at the Teddington site, including the Postgraduate Institute which trains up to 300 high-calibre PhD students, and provides a pipeline of skilled researchers.

Previous Annual reviews

On a daily basis NPL delivers extraordinary impact and benefits UK prosperity and quality of life. In our Annual reviews you will see many examples of excellent measurement science and engineering.

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