Mike Brady: winner of The Oxford Trust Lifetime Achievement Award 2017

As part of our annual Enterprise Awards, which take place each June, Professor Sir Michael Brady was presented with The Oxford Trust Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is given to an individual who is respected in the science innovation community for their outstanding contribution to society and growth of the region’s ecosystem. Lady Audrey Wood, patron of the Trust, presented the prize. She has known Mike for over thirty years but when she read his biography, not even Audrey knew quite how much he has achieved. Mike has had a stellar academic career and is an authority in the field of image analysis as well as being a prolific author. But what really makes him tick is the application and commercialisation of science.

Mike came to Oxford in 1985 to take up newly-created post of Professor of Information Engineering and is still Emeritus Professor of Oncological Imaging at Oxford. Prior to that he was Senior Research Scientist in the Artificial Intelligence lab at MIT. He founded the MIT Robotics Laboratory at a time when most people thought robots were fictional and only part of storylines in comic books or Doctor Who.

It was here, in Oxford, that Mike first came in to contact with the Woods and The Oxford Trust at the STEP centre on Osney Island where they ran meetings to encourage university–industry collaborations. At that time, there wasn’t a science park or innovation incubator in sight but the Trust was starting to support young entrepreneurs by providing business essentials such as affordable office space, mentoring schemes and networking opportunities. Young entrepreneurs like Mike snapped up the chance to get involved. The Woods also invested in one of Mikes’ first companies, Mirada Solution in 2000. This was sold to CTI Molecular Imaging in 2003 and became CTI Mirada.

Mike’s first company was Guidance (DP measurement technologies), which he set up in 1991, but he is also Founding Director of Perspectum Diagnostics (liver image analysis by MRI), Mirada Medical Ltd (medical image analysis software), Screenpoint (computer-aided detection of early stage breast cancer) and Optellum (earlier more confident cancer diagnosis). One company that means a great deal to him is Volpara, a mammographic image analysis company that was developed as a direct result of his mother-in-law, Dr Irene Friedlander, who died of breast cancer. Interestingly, three of these companies were founded at the Oxford Centre for Innovation (OCFI), which is owned and run by the Trust.

Mike still gets a massive kick out of seeing doctors diagnose and treat patients based on his science. Technology that he’s developed is now used in over 5000 hospitals around the world and he hopes that will double over the next ten years

In tandem with his first-class career as an academic, author and entrepreneur, Mike has been elected a Fellow of numerous institutions, including the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Academy of Medical Sciences and more recently an Associé Étranger of the Académie des Sciences in Paris. He was knighted in the New Year’s honours list in 2003 and has a long list of honorary doctorates too from UK universities but also as far away as Chongsha in southern China.

However, Mike has never forgotten his roots: “This wouldn’t have been possible without the catalytic effect of The Oxford Trust over the past thirty years. The Trust’s tireless work has led to the emergence of the local science and tech ecosystem that we see in Oxfordshire today. Behind that are the twin pillars that are Martin and Audrey Wood whose influence has just been massive – and they remain a guiding light for me and my wife, Naomi.”