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A think tank session yesterday focused on the role of femtech in addressing women’s health issues which have been historically under-researched.
Women are under-represented in health research, both as subjects and in terms of investment in relevant products, a think tank heard yesterday.
Somi Arian, founder of Femtalent.com, hosted a range of femtech experts, from academics to investors and entrepreneurs as part of her think tank on women in technology and innovation.
Dr Mitzi Krockover from angel investment network Golden Seeds opened the session, speaking about the funding and leadership gaps that mean women entrepreneurs in femtech are funded less often and receive less money. She spoke of the dearth of research on women’s health issues and said there was a need for more women in science and leadership roles in academia and for support for women to apply for patents and protect their discoveries more.
Femtech investment is growing, she added, although it still accounts for a fraction of innovation investment, and she anticipates success will drive the market. “The data shows that female-founded companies deliver twice as much per dollar of money investment than their male counterparts,” she said, adding that women need to understand better how to translate their research to the market and to be prepared, focused and strategic.
The webinar heard from several entrepreneurs. Helene Guillaume, founder of Millenials Partners, spoke of the sports app her company has developed based on research into women’s bodies. It shows women how to train, fuel and recover from exercise based on their menstrual cycle. Guillaume said most sports tech is based on male performance. She added: “Men still perceive femtech as niche.”
Rick Rowan, founder of NuroKor, spoke of his bioelectronics subsidiary which tackles period pain. He said 80% of women suffer period pain and 90% of UK companies have no period pain policy despite 52% of women who suffer from period pain saying it affects their work. He added that only a quarter have mentioned this to their employer. His company’s wearables help women to manage their pain through blocking pain signals.
Rajarshi Bhattacharya from the Royal Society of Medicine spoke of the lack of female orthopaedic surgeons. Less than 10% of orthopaedic surgeons are women despite more than half of medical graduates being women. Part of the reason, he said, is that surgery is a long apprenticeship which does not allow for interruptions such as having a family. Other factors include unconscious bias, a lack of role models and a belief that you need to be physically strong to work in orthopaedics. Battacharya said technology is helping to overcome the apprenticeship barrier through enabling simulations which can be accessed at home.
Other speakers included Maryon Stewart who has pioneered a non-drug, but scientifically based programme to overcome menopause symptoms which she says are leading to many women leaving the workplace. She is looking to gather data on menopause symptoms that can be used to create an algorithm to help millions of women access personalised care programmes based on diet and natural hormones. Professor Min Chen is collecting data on maternal deaths and increased risk due to the rise in unnecessary caesarean sections and Courtney Williams, co-founder of Emagine Solutions Technology, spoke of research into a platform which tracks and manages early symptoms of pre-eclampsia.
Femtalent.com helps to foreground the work being done in femtech and to connect female talent and potential funders. The aim is to boost the work being done by innovators and to drive more interest in the field.