Sakkie Meeuwsen, founder and MD of Bodystat, was originally a chartered accountant. But his love was always health and fitness, and when a friend introduced him to the technology of “body composition”, Mr Meeuwsen resigned from a company he was running in the South Africa to launch Bodystat.
“Body composition is the analysis of total body weight into the salient composition of body fat, muscle mass, and body water,” he explains.
Bodystat researches and manufactures a range of products which analyse body composition by using Bioelectrical-Impedance Analysis (BIA).
Non-invasive, fast and relatively inexpensive, BIA is an accurate and portable technique for fat and fat-free mass measurements. Major clients are BUPA, hospitals and health screening centres. It is used in clinical trials for new drugs designed to combat obesity or cancer. It also monitors the status of lipodystrophy (a medical condition characterised by abnormal or degenerative conditions of the body's adipose tissue) AIDS patients and bodyfat levels for athletes and fitness centres. Abroad, the US and China look to be the most promising markets.
Mr Meeuwsen began the business in Cape Town. After three years it was big enough to start focussing on export. But his home country of South Africa was under the threat of sanctions at the time, and in 1990 he decided to emigrate with the business to the Isle of Man.
“I only knew one guy here, but I also knew that it was safe. With a family, that was my priority. I was 45 years old at the time, and it felt urgent to grab every opportunity that I could to make a success out of the business. The Isle of Man’s tax advantages helped with that.
“There are a lot of South Africans in the Isle of Man, a group of us go mountain-biking every weekend. I’m passionate about it.”
Bodystat has five staff, and is on the verge of launching a major innovation: BIA touch-screen technology.
“I work closely with researchers in the medical field. My job is to work with them to find out their needs, and then to meet those needs.
“We’ve been three years in this development. A major target is for the haemodialysis (the removal of waste products and free water from the blood when the kidneys are in a state of renal failure) market, where the volume of fluid overload in the body will be measured.
“These days, everything is about apps! The field is expanding at an alarming rate. The whole medical profession wants medical apps on their smartphones. Our new handheld device will for example allow the downloading of a patient’s nutritional status into an app on the doctor’s smartphone.
The other, well, that’s classified for the time being. We look forward to launching in early 2014.”
“It’s nice to go to bed at night knowing that our developments are helping to improve the health of nations. It feels more meaningful than selling, say, ball-bearings…”
Tel: +44 (0)1624 629 571