What is FemTech?
As awareness and movements over gender inequalities progress, a new female health technology market has risen more simply known as the “Femtech” market. With more than 50% of the world’s population being female, efficient female healthcare is an urgent necessity. There are enormous physiological differences between the male and female body when it comes to hormones, processing medicine, birth, and pregnancy. Historically, medicine has seen the male body as the standard, while the female’s is the deviant. Femtech changes this idea with new emerging technology such as tracking wearables, artificial intelligence, apps, and noninvasive hardware to bring awareness to female health.
The Potential in FemTech
Currently, female technology startups primarily focus on a few sectors of female healthcare. The tracking sectors mostly include maternal and child care, family planning, fertility, and menstrual cycles while other biomedical devices deal with invasive reproductive health. Recently, Femtech has largely benefitted from general healthcare markets such as personalized wellness and consumer health technology as it has been the top 5 investment area in digital health. 200 billion dollars has been spent within Femtech already, which pales in comparison to the economic burden for women’s disease is more than $500 billion. Yet, this difference shows the space for incredible growth. In fact, Femtech has accumulated only 1 billion in funding between 2015 and 2018. The niche sector is on its way to be the next biggest disruptive market in healthcare in the next few years. Cost effectiveness prevails as one of the biggest benefits of FemTech. For example, infertility treatment stands around $11,000 and fertility and ovulation tracking lowers that number drastically before their main treatment.
The Problem with FemTech Startups
Female technology rests generally as an untapped field. Investors don’t put money into these startups for a couple of reasons. Some think that Femtech is a niche field, but they don’t grasp that women make up more than 50% of our population. Also, VC funds are male dominated, creating an intimidating environment for pitching startups like a menstruation cycle or sexual health application. Venture capitalists will awkwardly claim unfamiliarity with female health and decide against investment. Studies state when a male CEO pitches female health technology, venture capitalists invest more easily since they believe the product will target both genders, not just females. As the population becomes more accepting about female sexual health, situations like this decline and lead to more opportunity in the field.
Innovation in Female Technology
As the population becomes more open-minded about sexual health and more individual based instead of patient-doctor based, innovative female technologies have taken substantial strides forward in the healthcare market. Through sensor data, we can collect information about the female body to boost the innovative technologies in Femtech. Fitbit, a sensor data technology, has created an anonymous database of their customer’s menstrual cycles for research into more innovative ways to track periods. The Femtech industry also targets female health diseases such as endometriosis. Innovative technologies such as blood tests instead of invasive tissue surgery can diagnose this excruciatingly painful disease. Additionally, spit based fertility tests, Uber-like birth control delivery, and at home pap smears are on their way to the public to make female healthcare more accessible and attainable.
Top Startups in FemTech:
Progeny combines service, data, science and technology to provide fertility solutions to self-insured employers. Disclosed funding: $99.5M
Nuelle is a sexual wellness and intimate care company focused on delivering groundbreaking solutions made specifically for women. Acquired by: Aytu Bioscience. Disclosed funding: $23M
ObsEva is a speciality biopharmaceutical company developing drugs for women’s reproductive medicine. IPO. Disclosed funding: $153M
Glow is a fertility app that crunches and analyzes vast quantities of data to help users take control of their reproductive health. Disclosed funding: $28M
The Future of FemTech
The female technology market is growing quickly and the effects of this vast market will be tremendous. Female technology brings understanding and open-mindedness to women’s sexual health, while creating diversity in the health market. Female tracking devices, wearables, and fertility technology will lead to even more research into sectors like understanding autoimmune diseases and drug metabolization in women. This is just the beginning for female health technology.
About the Author:
Neeki Tahmassebi is a Summer Intern for the Health vertical at Plug and Play Ventures. She is also a third year undergraduate student at UC Davis majoring in Neurology, Physiology, and Behavior and pursuing a minor in Computer Science. Her passion is in biomedical technology and healthcare innovation. She is currently doing clinical research for Obstetrics and Gynecology at UC Davis Health. Neeki has also worked on other clinical research trials in Emergency Medicine. On her free time, she enjoys being a part of musical theatre, hiking, reading books, and listening to music.