Skip to main content

National Physical Laboratory

Volume 584: debated on Thursday 10 July 2014

I want to update the House on the progress since my statement of 27 November 2012, Official Report, column 6WS.

Following a formal competitive process, I have selected the universities of Strathclyde and Surrey to work to develop a strategic partnership with Government and NPL. This new partnership will help to provide future leadership of NPL, subject to reaching a formal agreement.

The partners’ proposal provided the best opportunities to meet the objective set out in November 2012 at the beginning of this process to strengthen both fundamental research and engagement with business by applying measurement science to support innovation and growth. My aims continue to be:

Bring greater expertise and intellectual flexibility to strengthen the laboratory’s science;

Make better use of the 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; and

Make better use of the site at Teddington by granting partners access to our spare capacity.

A partnership with an academic institution would also allow for the formation of a dedicated applied science postgraduate institute.

Scientific research is often limited by what can practically be measured. NPL’s research pushes this boundary and works with industry to apply this knowledge in practice—making a real difference to people’s lives and livelihoods. The universities will work closely with BIS and NPL on the future science strategy, enabling the partnership to boost NPL’s status and international influence as a world-leading National Measurement Institute, as well as strengthening its engagement with business. At the same time the universities will benefit from strengthening their own scientific excellence.

The strategic partnership offers exciting prospects to enhance the reach and impact of NPL’s science and commercial activities. NPL will continue to work with a wide range of academic and industrial partners both across the UK and internationally.

In the new arrangement, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will own the operating company, NPL Management Ltd, in a change to the current arrangement whereby NPL has been operated under a Government-owned contractor-operated arrangement.