The National Physical Laboratory, the nation's guarantor of measurements, looks set to be rebuilt with the help of a Pounds 300 million Private Finance Initiative scheme.
Founded in 1900, NPL ensures that the UK's measurements, including the kilogramme, the metre and the second, stay correct and match those in use around the world. It employs 700 staff and has an annual turnover of Pounds 42 million.
Giving the go-ahead for the scheme, the Department of Trade and Industry hailed it as evidence of the "reinvigorated" PFI process after the recent Treasury review.
The DTI has approved Laser, a joint venture between construction giant John Laing and management contractor Serco, as the preferred tenderer to bid for the PFI deal. If the contract goes ahead, Laser will build new labs at the NPL site in Teddington, London.