Opening Ceremony Recap
Tech4Eva kicks off with a big bang on March 31st to celebrate the revealing of it's 2022 Start-up cohort!
124 start-ups from 30 countries have applied to take part in the second edition of Tech4Eva, the unique equity free global accelerator for FemTech start-ups. The hybrid kickoff of the 2022 program on March 31st brought together 300+stakeholders including entrepreneurs, corporates, ecosystem builders, academia and research to discover the 28 selected start-ups and to discuss the Gender inequalities in medicine and women’s technologies as well as why Femtech matters.
Why is Femtech important to us?
The event was kicked off by Ursula Oesterle, VP of EPFL and Sophie Revaz, Member of the Executive Committee of Groupe Mutuel setting the stage as to why Femtech is important.
Sophie said: “50% of our customers are women. We know that only a few percent of healthcare research and innovation are specifically dedicated to women. Women have for example long been under-represented in clinical trials. A lot of medical procedures or treatments are not fully adapted to women because they do not take into account the specificities of women's health. This has a huge impact on their health. At Groupe Mutuel we want to change this and we think that innovation and new technologies should be at the service of women, too. This is why Femtech is important to us, because our role is not only to pay bills, our role is to offer our customers innovative solutions for better prevention, better treatments, and better services. In addition, there are still some taboos about women's health, especially at work. If we want to improve women’s health, these taboos have to disappear. So, we need to talk about them, to create awareness about it. We need to create a real cultural change if we want to improve women’s health. And I’m convinced that this cultural change will also lead to more equality, because health is an important factor of equality. And the whole economy and society will benefit from this! “
Ursula said: “A day of a woman is never the same yet we ask women to perform like men. It’s not only about childcare but also about the wellbeing of women at work and in general. Health players have a role to play such as bringing science to where it can have a real impact on society and advance women’s health and women’s career paths. This Tech4Eva event and program is international and we get new inspirations and new ideas every day!”
Equality and Gender Differences in Medicine
It is important to Tech4Eva to bring awareness on how to advance and improve the way that we diagnose and treat women’s specific health issues. We were very honored to have our keynote speaker, Prof. Jill Goldstein, Founder & Executive Director at the Innovation Center on Sex Differences inMedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School share her insights on the topic of “Sex Differences in Medicine”.
Jill said: “We have observed that certain chronic diseases are more present in women (worldwide), notably anxiety, depression, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease and autoimmune diseases. And we know today that this is not due to the length of life of women. Men, on the other hand, are more often affected by cardiovascular disease and diabetes for example. “
Key call for actions from our keynote speaker Jill M. Goldstein Ph.D.:
1) Remain committed to understanding the gender differences in medicine;
2) Train the next generation of doctors; and
3) Increase financial support for research and influence more policies promoting women's health.
Moderated by Marco Ruedi of EPFL Innovation Park, Jill was joined by Petronela Sandulache of CorDiFio and Usha Sarma of ArtorgCenter at UniBE in a lively discussion about the importance of advancing women’s health research to facilitate treatments.
Here is what alumni Petronela had to say about her journey with Tech4Eva: “We were one of the few projects that was not looking into the reproductive system. Tech4Eva has been very useful for us to raise awareness on the topic of cardiology and improve and grow: we have developed a platform and created a global network, and digital therapeutics for developing early heart detection, because if you catch it when you are young, you have a better chance of survival. To build our project we talked with a lot of stakeholders. The solution was created with the doctors and patients input including 300+ interviews. “
Usha shared why she moved into the topic of Femtech: I was lucky to be involved in many women’s health projects very early on in my research even if it was not called Femtech back then. I also understood that in research the thing is to find a problem that has no solution yet and that it’s all driven by an unmet need of the ecosystem. Bringing the solution into the clinic or the market place as well as influencing policies is important. Tech4Eva is a fantastic opportunity to bring forward these solutions!”
Marco concluded that one of the key learnings from the discussion is the complexity of the issue, even though we have a feeling no one is doing anything: the politicians, the pharma industry and physicians are too late...change is actually happening. The real challengers of this status quo are the start-ups and their solutions.
Advice from 3 “entrepreneurs at heart” to start-ups:
Usha: “I personally look forward to meeting other solutions and start-ups to learn from them, and I would like say to people that help is coming.”
Jill: “Make the case, show that your solution has a major impact, educating everyone (scientist but also the public!) and this will create an outcome. You need to be ambassadors for women’s health and for your economy.”
Petronela: “Educating is key by having discussions with all stakeholders. It’s about empowering the women; nothing can be created alone – get out of your office! Healthcare start-ups needs to co-create with the input of people. Join this global initiative.”
Tech4Eva Alumni Spotlight
The spotlight was also on Tech4Eva alumni start-ups Fizimed which develops connected medical devices for women to strenghten their pelvic floor, VivecaBiomed, which tackles female stress urinary incontinence with their disposable and discreet bladder support, PhenomX which provides therapeutic nutrition solutions for women using technologies to measure hormonal health imbalances, and Soleil ’s digital program and app which helps women build their confidence and improving their wellbeing. The CEOs and founders shared their experience of being part of the program in 2021 and the progress they have made since then such as pivoting their focus, building international contacts, learning how to work with corporate partners and collaborating with fellow CEOs and mentors to name a few examples of what benefits the Tech4Eva program brings to the start-ups.
Lan Zuo Gillet, Deputy Managing Director of EPFL Innovation Park and Co-Founder of Tech4Eva presented the program of 2022 and revealed the 28 selected start-ups of 2022: 13 growth stage and 15 early stage start-ups.
The vision of Tech4Eva remains to be an innovation platform based in Switzerland for disruptive Femtech start-ups to join forces with forward thinking corporations to advance and improve technologies related to women’s health. It is amazing how much momentum the initiative has gained since its inception just one year ago. As a reminder 60M CHF was raised last year by the 30 Tech4Eva start-ups with countless investor and customer meetings that took place. The 28 selected start-ups were selected from a pool of 124 applications from 30 countries from a multitude of areas and solutions – 80% of them women founders. More information on the solutions can be found in the full brochure online here.
Tech4Eva is meant to be all inclusive, no matter what your gender, background or nationality - everyone is invited to take part in the initiative and community. All stakeholders need to be brought together to work together! The motivation of the start-ups is incredible and we are looking forward to the 2022 edition and we hope that Femtech will become mainstream in a few years as its clearly not a niche market!
To watch the full event recording including the growth stage start-up pitches, please listen to the YouTube video recording here.