The femtech revolution: women first, finally
Women’s health has long been lacking innovation and investment. Women represent 51% of the population and yet specific resources for, and research into, conditions which disproportionality impact women have been overwhelmingly scarce. This can be traced back to the data gap in women’s health — medical research overwhelmingly focuses on men, with the results being extrapolated to women. It’s for this reason, that women are more likely to die of heart attacks. Women present different symptoms to men which are largely under-researched. Insufficient investment for products focused on women’s health has prevented women from accessing adequate healthcare which supports their needs. Fortunately, this is changing.
There has been an unprecedented growth in the number of tech-savvy start-ups which are designing leading products for women and transforming the landscape of disease diagnosis, pregnancy, miscarriage, motherhood and the menopause. The access to products designed to suit their needs has set the wheels of change in motion for women. Autonomy for women over their health and wellbeing is long overdue.
What is femtech?
Femtech is a term applied to the services, products and diagnostics which use technology to improve women’s health. ‘Femtech’ was first thought to be coined by Ida Tin, CEO and Founder of women’s menstruation-tracking app, Clue, during conversations with male investors.
Femtech startups and companies to watch
The footprint of femtech is vast. And, it’s just the beginning, as the industry is expected to be worth over $50bn by 2025. From fertility trackers to sexual wellness apps, the market is booming with products and services which deliver better healthcare for women. It’s a crowded space but there are some companies which stand out.
Securing $42 billion in Series B funding, the largest femtech investment (at the time), Elvie is a trailblazer in this space. The firm has developed a silent breast pump and discreet pelvic floor strengthener and is now recognised for tackling previously seemed “taboo subjects” head-on.
On the other end of the scale, you’ve got promising startups like Adia Health, launched just this year, whose platform educates women about their reproductive health.
Amongst those leading the way is Natural Cycles – the world’s first and only FDA and CE approved contraception app. In fact, the biggest study into menstrual cycles done by them in partnership with UCL, revealed that only 13% of women have cycles lasting 28 days, contrary to popular belief. The significance of these findings for fertility is huge.
The Lowdown is another website making waves. The peer-to-peer review website for contraception enables women, for the first time ever, to openly discuss the merits and pitfalls of different options. Freedom to choose, greater accessibility and information about different products are transforming how women approach reproductive healthcare.
The personalisation of female healthcare is at the heart of Syrona. This platform allows women to understand their gynaecological health by testing for issues such as PCOS and endometriosis. Tests can take place in the comfort of their own homes, giving women greater privacy and flexibility.
Investment into femtech
However, the industry still has some way to go. Miscarriages and menopause remain taboos, and discussions about female-focused products are still often dismissed by male investors.
Venture capital (VC) investments into femtech startups are typically led by men who are too often embarrassed to ask questions or do not understand the value of technology solving fertility, breastfeeding and women’s health issues. So, communicating effectively is particularly important for femtech companies to educate this audience. In the same vein, women are still underrepresented in the VC world, only 13% of VC decision-makers are female in the UK – consequently, the amount of funding femtech startups get is still much lower than other industries.
The future is female
Reservations aside, the future is undoubtedly female. The flourishing femtech market has created a change in mindset around women’s health and sparked debate about personalisation, choice and autonomy.
It’s an exciting time for femtech firms and as the market matures, they will need to focus on making their brand and products distinctive. Take period trackers. Already the market is saturated with the likes of Clue, Eve, Ovia and even Apple Watch. Now is the time for femtech firms to stake their claim and become known.
If you want to learn more about Aspectus’ femtech PR and marketing work and our capacity to support femtech companies, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. In the last month, for Natural Cycles, we secured 19 pieces of coverage with a readership of 1.3 billion people. Highlights included pieces in Refinery29, Glamour, The Sunday Times and BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour.
Ellie is a Junior Account Executive working in the Technology PR team at Aspectus Group.