Although NCIMB Ltd was established as a company in 1982, the history of the "National Collection of Industrial, Food and Marine Bacteria" itself dates back much further.

During the 1950s, the UK Government merged the National Collection of Industrial Bacteria and the National Collection of Marine Bacteria to create the National Collection of Industrial and Marine Bacteria. The collection continued to be part of the Scientific Civil Service for many years, until in 1982 management of the collection was transferred to the University of Aberdeen, and the company NCIMB Ltd was created as a wholly owned subsidiary of Aberdeen University Industrial Services (AURIS).  At this time the company also gained the status of International Depository Authority under the Budapest Treaty and as such maintains strains of microorganisms that are involved in patented processes. This patent deposit service has been extended to include plant seeds making NCIMB one of only a handful of global collections offering this facility.

In 1993 the National Collection of Food Bacteria (formerly the national Collection of Dairy Organisms) was moved to Aberdeen and became part of NCIMB thus further extending its remit as the UK’s premier collection of reference strains from environmental sources. 

Finally, in 2000, NCIMB Ltd was spun out from the university to become an independent commercial company.

Since NCIMB Ltd was established it has managed the National Collection of Industrial, Food and Marine Bacteria as well as providing a comprehensive range of commercial microbiology services and products which draw on our heritage of managing, understanding and exploiting bacteria. Today, NCIMB is also a well established provider of chemical analysis and radiochemistry services for the environmental and oilfield sectors.