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RAPP UP

“There is a huge need for both support and education about women’s health”

For generations, women have lived with health and care systems that are mostly designed by men, for men.

Despite representing 51 per cent of the population, women are still significantly underrepresented in clinical trials and research. This has meant that not enough is known about conditions that only affect women, or about how conditions that affect both men and women impact women in different ways.

This gender gap contributes to worse health outcomes for women, with much less known about female health conditions than those that also or only affect men. In the UK, women have a longer life expectancy than men, with life expectancy at birth being 83.1 for women and 79.4 years for men in 2017 to 2019. However, women in the UK spend a greater proportion of their lives in ill health and disability.

In summer 2021, the UK government opened a consultation process to inform the development of a national Women’s Health Strategy. The ambition is to build a health system that better understands and is, therefore, responsive to the realities and needs of women throughout their lives.

There is a huge need for both support and education about all aspects of women’s health. Personalised, accessible and delivered in a way that evolves as their lives change. As women’s healthcare becomes an increasing priority, the femtech industry is rising to meet the challenge. The industry has already demonstrated impressive early wins and with appropriate access to funding, greater disruption could be ahead.

In 2019, the femtech industry generated $820.6m in global revenue and received $592m in venture capital investment. Femtech pioneers, many of whom are female-founded, have benefited from cultural shifts, sparked by events such as the #MeToo movement, a growing interest in diversity and inclusion and pandemic-related digital acceleration.

While the US accounts for the lion’s share of femtech startups, the UK comes second in a market predicted to be worth in excess of $75.1B (£60.7B) by 2025. The industry represents a broad range of companies that are focused on developing technology aimed at improving women’s health and wellbeing that tend to fall into four categories: healthcare and diagnostics, reproductive health, pregnancy and family care and general health and wellness.

Of these, reproductive health, pregnancy and family care currently dominate the market and according to a recent McKinsey report “there are still significant white spaces” for growth.

The disruption in this space is driven by the need to create inclusive, individualised experiences that meet the unique identities, values and personal needs of women. The one size fits all approach has been sized out.

“The ability to understand the whole woman — her genetics, aspirations, experiences as well as unmet her health needs, provides an opportunity to holistically signpost the right solutions that takes her on a journey that touches every aspect of her well-being”.

Here, Idia Elsmore Dodsworth, co-founder of the AI-based reproductive health monitoring app, Tinto, has highlighted the fact that there is a real shift towards ‘well-care’ versus ‘sick-care’ in the femtech space.

Embedding AI into their own product has helped ensure granularity of data inputs that allows for “super-tailored” content that empower users to manage their health as seamlessly and effortlessly as with other aspects of their lives, and on their terms.

Below are a selection of femtech organisations to keep an eye on:

Tinto

Founders: Dr Hannah Allen and Idia Elsmore Dodsworth

Year founded: 2019

Total funding: Undisclosed seed funding

As a provider of AI-based software solutions for reproductive health monitoring, the mission of the Tinto app is to nurture women through modern motherhood, enabling mothers to understand the full picture of their wellbeing, and to build a network through meaningful connection and proactive, personalised guidance.

The company offers a mobile app that allows users to communicate with health and wellbeing providers. It provides a curated online community where members can access information and advice from like-minded women going through similar challenges. It also provides online articles regarding baby health, women’s health and topics beyond motherhood.

Elvie

Founder: Tania Boler

Year founded: 2013

Total funding: £116m

Elvie is a London-headquartered firm that manufacturers technology hardware for women. The first product by the company was the Elvie Trainer, an app-connected Kegal trainer. Followed by the Elvie Pump a quiet, wireless electric pump.

Last September it closed £70m in its Series C funding round to continue diversifying its product range.

Vira Health

Founders: Andrea Berchowitz and Dr Rebecca Love

Year founded: 2020

Total funding: £11.2m

London-based Vira Health focuses on women’s healthcare and improving the gathering and use of female data in healthcare.

Its first product is a menopause subscription app called Stella which guides women through menopause with tailored treatments based on the users’ symptoms.

Last month Vira Health raised £9m in a funding round to add new features to its menopause app, including telehealth and prescriptions.

Clementine

Founder: Kim Palmer

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: £1m

Clementine is a mental health app for women that uses hypnotherapy to lower stress levels and build confidence. In the subscription-based app there are sleep sessions, confidence courses, anti-anxiety courses and mantras.

The app was created after founder Kim Palmer suffered with panic attacks during pregnancy. Earlier in the year, Clementine partnered with singer and songwriter Becky Hill to encourage young people on a journey to self-care.

Headquartered in London, Clementine raised $1.3m (£1m) in its seed funding round in October 2020.

Afua Basoah is the Head of Health Strategy at RAPP UK

This Article originally ran in Femtech World in May 2022

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