FemTech may be relatively new to the startup scene but is already a major investment category, with fundings and investments expected to reach £60.7m globally by 2025. So, what is FemTech and why should it be on investors’ radars?
What is FemTech?
The term FemTech is credited to Ida Tin, a Danish entrepreneur, who coined the term in 2016 and co-founded Clue, one of the world’s leading period and fertility tracking apps by global rankings.
Also known as female tech, FemTech refers to any technology specifically designed to improve women’s health and wellbeing.
The gender health gap
Historically, women’s health has been overlooked in medical research and clinical trials, leading to worse health outcomes for women and less known about female health conditions than those that also or only affect men. In 2019, the Guardian reported that five times more research is carried out into erectile dysfunction, which affects 19% of men, than into premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which affects 90% of women.
The FemTech market aims to address the gender health gap through new digital product development and tech-enabled services across a wide range of areas, including:
Popular technological solutions include period care subscriptions, wearable breast pumps, personalised digital health platforms and virtual clinics.
Traditionally FemTech startups have struggled to secure investment, particularly for products that solve more ‘taboo’ female health complaints. What’s more, the majority of FemTech companies have female founders, who already receive a disproportionately low level of equity investment in the UK and who are underrepresented amongst venture capital (VC) and angel investors themselves.
Despite this, FemTech startups have seen a rise in VC portfolios in recent years as well as the introduction of funds and programmes specifically supporting FemTech products to market.
Elvie is one of the UK’s leading FemTech companies, operating mainly in breastfeeding support. Since it was founded in 2013, the company has secured seven Innovate UK grants and over £110m in equity investment. The company has also attended three accelerator programmes and was named on four high-growth lists in 2021.
Come 2022 and interest in the sector continues to grow. This year, Parla, another UK startup which focusses on women’s mental wellbeing after pregnancy loss, was acquired by Holland & Barrett, and US-based Maven Clinic, a digital platform for women’s and family health, became the world’s first FemTech unicorn.
FemTech is growing fast with impressive early wins. It’s a space which seems likely to continue to be attractive for quick-moving investors who can spot opportunities to invest early in promising technology addressing needs which are still unmet, as well as for established companies in traditional sectors, like Holland & Barrett, who see Femtech as a natural extension of their business.
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