A consortium led by Serco with Battelle and the University of Manchester has been selected as recommended bidder to run the National Nuclear Laboratory at Sellafield.
The NNL, formerly Nexia Solutions, will help clean up the UK's nuclear waste legacy and also contribute to the programme of nuclear new build.
Energy and climate change minister Mike O'Brien said: "With new nuclear power stations in the UK coming forward by 2018, and decommissioning of old sites progressing, the National Nuclear Laboratory will be an increasingly important facility.
"It will be a leader in high-tech nuclear skills in the UK. And it will help safeguard the West Cumbrian economy in particular."
The contractor will 'provide strategic vision and management to the NNL and develop it as a stand-alone business'.
The contract is due to begin on 1 April and will be for an initial three year period with options to extend by up to two years.