A region with skills, talented researchers, and an excellent supply chain

Published 5th December 2016 at 2:51pm

In a new series about people connected with the Sheffield City Region, we are featuring Keith Jackson, a member of the Local Enterprise Partnership Business Growth Board.

Keith, CEO of JRI Orthopaedics, believes that the story of his firm is one that reflects the innovation and dynamism of the whole city region.

JRI was launched in 1970 by the pioneering London surgeon Ronald Furlong, who needed quality hip replacements for his patients and the surgical instruments needed to fit them. Furlong chose to manufacture in Attercliffe, knowing Sheffield’s reputation for working with high-value ‘exotic alloys’. Many of his staff had been employed in the cutlery trade, where these skills were prized.

Keith says: “It was and is a sector with a heritage of high level skills, a strong and co-operative research community which draws in talent, and an excellent supply chain.”

Ronald Furlong designed ’The Furlong HAC’, a revolutionary implant, and combined it with a ceramic coating completely compatible with bone, and the first of its kind in the world. With an aging population, this was a significant innovation in joint replacement, and since 1985 hundreds of thousands of patients have been fitted with it.

Although Mr Furlong died in 2002, aged 93, JRI Orthopaedics thrives.

It has developed into a medium sized business, with 115 employees now based at Chapeltown, precision manufacturing hip joints and distributing other high quality orthopaedic devices. It works closely with universities and teaching hospitals across the UK on leading-edge research into new and improved hip, knee and shoulder joints. Recently, in partnership with Nottingham Teaching Hospitals, JRI developed a completely new shoulder system.

Mr Furlong structured the business so that it is wholly owned by Orthopaedic Research UK (ORUK), a charity which is one of the largest funders of orthopaedic research in the UK. Over the last 10 years JRI has donated £12 million to ORUK –  investing more in orthopaedic research and medical educational programmes as a percentage of its turnover than any other orthopaedic implant company.

Keith, who began his career at Jaguar Cars as a design engineer and management trainee, is now a Chartered Director and Chartered Bioengineer. He is making expansion into international markets including Brazil, China and Japan, his key objective for JRI.

Visiting Professor at Sheffield University

I have recently been hugely honoured by being made a Visiting Professor at Sheffield University. I’m planning to bring the curriculum to life with keynote lectures across the engineering faculties. I also see it as a marvellous opportunity to meet and inspire some of the brightest young brains in the engineering world.

Sheffield City Region

I sit on the city region’s Local Enterprise Business Growth Board, and we aim to encourage small and medium sized businesses to be much more innovative. That’s where the Sheffield City Region’s recently-launched Growth Hub is key: it can signpost businesses to many sources of support and specialist advice.

Innovation isn’t just about new and enhanced products: it’s also about new business processes and good ideas for excellent customer service. You can grow your business by innovating in marketing and external relations, for example.

Medilink Yorkshire and Humber

I’m a non-executive director of Medilink, the not-for-profit membership body which is building on the strengths of the region’s medical technologies, and the collaborative nature of the research between manufacturers and hospitals. I’m also a non-executive director for Devices for Dignity which captures clinical experience to develop new treatments to help people with long-term medical conditions.

The Institute of Directors, South Yorkshire

When I became a director I wanted to become the best I could be, and learn from my peers, so I joined the Institute and took their director development programme, becoming a Chartered Director. I’m now honoured to be Chair of the South Yorkshire branch of the IoD.

The Crucible Theatre

I have been behind the scenes with the IoD and the theatre’s thrust stage really makes you feel immersed in the acting. It’s a wonderful place for drama.

Worshipful Company of Cutlers

I’m a member of the Cutlers Company and I’ve found it a great forum for business networking, for charitable work, and for lobbying – the organisation has the ear of Whitehall.  Not only that, Cutlers’ Hall is a fantastic building with amazing displays inside – you couldn’t make most of these items today. It’s a real treasure with an entrance you can easily miss – rather like a Tardis!

Kelham Island Museum

I feel the same about Kelham Island – it’s packed full of industrial treasures. It’s also worth a trip to the fascinating Chimney House next door, so beautifully renovated.


I do karate classes with my three sons: I find it’s a fantastic relief from the pressures of work. You have to absolutely concentrate. I’m also a keen skier; on and off-piste.