NPL is an internationally respected centre of excellence in measurement and materials science. Since 1900, it has developed and maintained the primary national measurement standards. Today it provides the scientific resources for the National Measurement System financed by the Department of Trade and Industry. The NPL also offers a range of commercial services, applying scientific skills to industrial measurement problems, and broadcasts the MSF time signal.
NPL cooperates with professional networks such as those of the IEE to support scientists and engineers concerned with areas of work in which it has expertise.
Researchers who have worked at the NPL include Paul Baran and Donald Davies, who invented packet switching in the early 1960's, Louis Essen, who invented a more accurate atomic clock than those first built in America, Alan Turing, one of the fathers of modern digital computing, Robert Watson-Watt, generally considered the inventor of radar, and the numerical analyst James Wilkinson.
A new privately-funded state-of-the-art laboratory for the NPL at Teddington is due to be completed during 2003.