The Berlin/Boston-based nutrition tech firm delivers its DIY blood sampling kit to consumers that takes three to four drops of blood. This sample then gets shipped back to its Swiss lab for micronutrient analysis on eight key nutrients: vitamin B12, D and E, omega-3, magnesium, copper, zinc and selenium.
From this, Baze establishes what supplements are necessary, if any, and posts them to the consumer, with dosages adjusted according to results and personal profile data run through a specially developed, patent-pending algorithm. Results are also sent to the consumer via the app.
After numerous years of development and a partnership project with the FHNW University in Basel, Switzerland to create the microanalysis platform, Baze is now in the commercialisation phase, having launched into the US a few weeks ago and planning its European launch for Q4 this year.
Co-founder Philipp Schulte said it took some time to be able to achieve “proper, targeted supplementation” because it's only truly possible when working to the specifics of individuals.
“For that, you need data. And by far the most meaningful data out there is actually the molecular level of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and trace elements in your blood; that's your real-time state,” Schulte told NutraIngredients.
“Blood is the best window to your body; to your nutrient status, and this gives you that real-time nutrient status and you should base your supplementation on this.”
Blood and more
Schulte said Baze's proprietary DIY blood sampling kit is small, pain-free and easy to use. About the size of “a little ping pong ball”, he said the device is glued to your upper arm and at the push of a button micro-needles pierce the skin and a vacuum collects the small amount of blood. The process takes between three to four minutes.
Asked if some consumers might be put off by the need to 'give blood', he said: “Quite frankly, yes. I think so. But that's the case with pretty much all new products. What has really driven us, is to get it right and for that, we need to have that view into your body and we have then gone to extreme lengths to make this really convenient.
"This is not a stick. It's not going to a lab where they pull blood out of your arm. This is a pain-free, super convenient, three drops of blood with a new device that is amazing and takes blood draws to the 21st century... I think many people will be 'wowed' by it.”
He said the sampling kits are used once and are designed with built-in sterilisation to protect the blood sample which stays encased in the device until testing in the lab.
The goal, he said, is to get a “granular perspective” on the consumer's nutrient status.
“The closest you could come to what we're currently doing is to work with a nutritionist who would send you to the lab, get the report, talk it through with you, talk about what kind of supplements you want to take and what sorts of dietary changes you want to make. But that is something that is, quite frankly, not affordable to everybody in terms of time and money.”
Micronutrient analysis, he said, typically costs upwards of €400 and for a cost of around €68 ($79) with Baze, consumers get testing, analysis and supplements delivered to their door.
Baze recommends re-tests every three months to ensure supplements suit current nutrient needs, which Schulte said change with lifestyle and even seasons.
Importantly, re-testing also strengthens the analysis and precision provided by Baze, he said. From the first test, which provides a baseline measurement, he said dosages can be refined according to things like nutrient absorption, which differs depending on genetics and lifestyle.
“Part of our IP is this learning feedback loop... At each cycle, we personalise the dosing more and more to your personal biochemistry... It's not a one-off thing. It's really about bringing you and keeping you in your optimal.”
Repeated testing also provides more app data which is useful in understanding consumer ambitions to tailor supplementation accordingly, like if they are preparing for a big sports event. “That is important for us to know, not just in terms of personalisation and a deeper understanding on what you need, but as well in terms of being dynamic.”
For the moment, Baze still approves each automated supplement recommendation with its nutritionists, which theoretically isn't necessary, he said, but for the time being the company wants to stick to this.
In the future, there is scope for the system to be fully-automated and also include analysis on other micronutrients, although, Schulte said there are some, like calcium, that Baze will never work with.
“The blood value of calcium, as well as a dietary intake tracker, wouldn't give you a sense on how you should think about supplementing calcium. The only real measurement is a bone density scan. We don't do that and that's why we don't supplement calcium... If we don't have the evidence to personalise the supplementation, we don't do it.”
US first, Europe second...
Schulte said Baze launched into the US first because the market, in terms of personalised nutrition, is “still a few years ahead on Europe”.
“We decided to launch a product, which from our perspective takes supplementation to the next level, and we think the US is more open to that. And when you look at some other companies in that space, I think it proves the case...Look at the success of 23andMe and other companies out there – it speaks to the fact that some are open to use a more quantified, innovative approach in some health areas,” he said.
23andMe is a California-based biotech company founded in 2006 that offers genetic testing and analysis through saliva. Since 2015, the company has also been selling kits that provide reports on health traits and risk for a handful of diseases.
US consumers, Schulte said, are much more involved in health decisions and are used to paying for it. They also tend to be “more native” to new technology in this field, he said.
Despite this, he said Europe has shown a lot of enthusiasm for the Baze concept, so perhaps the company underestimated its potential.
In the US, Baze works with high-quality, local supplement manufacturers but in Europe it wants to work with European players and Schulte said the company is open to discussions with industry. Aside from adjusting upper-limits in Baze's algorithm, moving into Europe should be straightforward, he said.