Award-winning healthcare company JRI Orthopaedics has been acquired by China’s leading orthopaedic implant company AK Medical in a £16.7M deal.

The Sheffield-based company, which was wholly owned by the charity Orthopaedic Research UK (ORUK), now becomes part of one of the world’s largest 3D-printed orthopaedic implant manufacturers.

The synergy created by combining the two businesses will create a larger and stronger group within the international orthopaedic sector.

JRI Orthopaedics has worked closely with the Beijing-based AK Medical, China’s largest domestic orthopaedic implant producer, for the last three years as part of a strategic growth strategy.

After securing regulatory approval to sell its own high quality cemented, uncemented and revision hip product portfolio in China, JRI Orthopaedics signed an exclusive distribution deal with AK Medical.

It has also been sub-manufacturing AK Medical implants at its state-of-the-art Chapeltown manufacturing plant where further investment is now planned.

The acquisition will see JRI Orthopaedics continuing as an autonomous business with no change to the company’s management team or Sheffield workforce.

Jerry Agass, JRI Orthopaedics Joint Managing Director, said: “The JRI Board and our staff are excited by the agreement reached with AK Medical and look forward to a stronger future as a combined business.

“We have been working successfully together in the Chinese market for the last three years and there is a strong commercial fit between the two companies, both in terms of their business strategies and ethics.

“AK Medical attaches great importance and value to the specialised skills, knowledge and experience of the management and employees at JRI and this was a key attraction of the business.

“Both brands will continue but combining the two businesses will create a larger and stronger group within the international orthopaedic sector and will open up a number of joint opportunities that will benefit customers worldwide.”

AK Medical is a public company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It was the first medical device company to commercialize the application of 3D-printing technology in orthopaedic joint and spine replacement implants in China. It commands a leading position in the Chinese orthopaedic joint replacement market with a revenue of £42million and recorded sales growth of more than 30 per cent last year.

Commenting on the deal, Mr. Li Zhijiang, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AK Medical, said: “We are delighted that JRI Orthopaedics will be joining AK Medical.  This represents a significant step forward in achieving my vision of improving the quality of life of patients across the world.”

Founded in 1970 by orthopaedic surgeon Mr Ronald Furlong, JRI Orthopaedics was the first company in world orthopedics to produce a hip implant with a Hydroxyapatite coating enabling a biological bond with the patient’s bone and so the prospect of a hip for life.

Today, it has world-class expertise in the design, development and manufacture of a portfolio of orthopaedic implants and systems which deliver the best solutions in joint reconstruction, repair and regeneration.

The company, which employs over 100 people, has internationally recognized research and development capabilities and this expertise will be further developed by the new Group with the creation of a global R&D centre in the UK.

Uniquely, JRI has been wholly owned by the charity Orthopaedic Research UK (ORUK), gift aiding millions to fund world class research into bone and joint disease.

The company will continue to work in collaboration with leading universities, commercial organisations and clinical experts and a new, global education and training facility for surgeons and employees will be developed in the UK.

Robert Vallings, Chairman of ORUK said: “We are delighted that JRI are joining AK Medical so that the Furlong legacy will continue and grow under a partner that shares the same values of clinical and research excellence.”