It is now fully appreciated that metrology will play an integral role in the successful development and commercialization of micro- and nanotechnology. To this end, the UK Government, through the National Measurement System, funded several groundbreaking projects in its 2002-2005 Programme for Length. This paper will briefly describe the background of the research, concentrating on the technical details of the projects. The Programme for Length normally only funds work into dimensional metrology but this funding cycle also funded work into low force metrology as this area is crucial to most mechanical probing techniques. The projects described include a traceable areal contacting instrument designed to calibrate areal transfer artefacts and hence offer traceability for industrial areal instruments, the production of the areal transfer artefacts, the development of Internet-based softgauges for profile parameters, a primary low force balance with a force resolution of 50 pN and the development of methods for measuring complex micro-scale structures. Amongst others, the projects involved collaboration with PTB, TNO, Taylor Hobson, AWE, Rubert & Co. and the Universities of Warwick, Huddersfield and Eindhoven.