In this article we describe the history of the Philips Natuurkundig Laboratorium (Nat.Lab.) in the Netherlands in the period 1914-1994. The article aims at considering three main research problems. Firstly, we pay attention to the process of institutionalisation of industrial research and development (R&D) in the twentieth century. Secondly, we place the history of the Nat.Lab. in the context of innovation in the Netherlands. Finally, we investigate the role of this industrial laboratory in its company, Philips Electronics. The historical account shows that the Nat.Lab.'s mission changed over time in accordance with the changes in its context and adapted its structure, culture and external contacts according to the needs of each new mission. Throughout time it remained a unique place for multidisciplinary research for the company.