You have likely heard of FinTech, RegTech, EdTech, HealthTech and so on, but are you aware of FemTech?
FemTech, also known as female tech, is the use of technology to focus on women’s health. From periods, fertility, pregnancy, and birth control, through to sexual wellness, pelvic health and menopause, FemTech covers a broad range of conditions and disorders.
Just five years ago, the term FemTech did not exist. It was coined in 2016 by Danish entrepreneur Ida Tin, who founded Clue – a period and fertility tracking app. Given that Clue is one of the pioneers in this area, the time of its inception highlights just how new FemTech is to the digital world.
Yet female focused technology start-ups are now a major investment category. Funding and investments in this sector are expected to reach $9bn (£6.5bn) by 2024. With these start-ups comes much needed innovation on topics that have largely been ignored by male investors and tech founders.
Conversely, FemTech has also sparked some debate. Critics argue the term could deter male investors as it reinforces gender stereotypes and excludes other communities such as trans and non-binary individuals.
What this criticism does not highlight is that there is far less information from clinical trials and studies into women’s healthcare than for conditions affecting both men and women, or just men alone. Research also shows how the diagnosis of most diseases has focused on men and tended to ignore the different reactions that may occur in women’s bodies. An example of the discrepancies in clinical study is that stats show that there is five times more research into erectile dysfunction, affecting just 19% of men, in comparison to PMS affecting 90% of women, with conditions such as endometriosis taking an average of 8 years to diagnose.
The emergence of more clinically based studies, research, and tools to advance healthcare for anyone, however, can surely only be a good thing.
Although FemTech, unlike some other more established tech sectors, does not have a ‘hub’ yet, there are many companies popping up across the world leading the way in FemTech. According to techround.co.uk 10 to watch are:
- Clue – tracks more than 30 categories of women’s health, including period cycles.
- Elvie – known for its silent and discreet wearable breast pumps and Kegel trainers.
- Brarista – an app utilising AI to recommend perfectly fitting bras.
- Ava – a wearable that identifies the most fertile days of a woman’s cycle.
- LactApp – a breast feeding app able to answer more than 76,000 possible questions.
- Inne – a hormone tracker for fertility control utilising saliva and a reader for analysis.
- NextGen Jane – in beta phase, this is a platform used for early identification of disease via period blood.
- Syrona Women – billed as a “one stop shop for women’s health” on a single platform.
- Atusa – the world’s first 3D ultrasound breast scanner which is both portable and automated.
- Maven – a virtual clinic with 1,700 specialists in its network.
Beauhurst, a UK database of start-ups, recently reported that 57% of tech-based start-ups have no women in their C-suite, or, in fact, among their heads of departments. When it comes to other decision-making roles only 15% of start-ups have more than half of these roles carried out by women, and scaleups are even less at 5%. With the significant expected growth in FemTech companies over the next few years, perhaps the balance of women in the C-suite will see significant growth too.
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