SINTEF was established in 1950 by the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH), which now forms part of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Two intentions were involved:
- SINTEF was to encourage technological and other types of industrially oriented research at the Institute.
- SINTEF was also to meet the need for research and development in the public and private sectors.
SINTEF enjoyed its most rapid phase of growth in the 1970s due to the growing demands for technology in the young Norwegian petroleum industry. Important laboratories such as the Ocean Basin Laboratory and the Multiphase Laboratory saw the light of day during this period. Today, the Ocean Basin Laboratory is part of MARINTEK. The Multiphase Laboratory is part of SINTEF Petroleum Research.
The SINTEF Group was founded in the mid-80's when the Ship Research Institute of Norway, the Norwegian Research Institute of Electricity Supply and the Continental Shelf Institute were drawn under the SINTEF umbrella. These institutes were transformed into research companies with SINTEF being the central shareholder. The fourth research company, SINTEF Fishery and Aquaculture, was established in 1999.
Today SINTEF consists of eight research institutes: SINTEF Building and Infrastructure, SINTEF ICT, SINTEF Materials and Chemistry, SINTEF Technology and Society, SINTEF Energy Research, SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture, SINTEF Petroleum Research and MARINTEK.