A joint program between EPFL Innovation Park and Groupe Mutuel
Call for Application 2022 Opening soon!
Next Roadshow November 17th
Program Duration 9 months
December 7, 2022

Tech4Eva Conference 2022 - The Recap

It’s a wrap of the 2022 Tech4Eva program and its 2nd annual hybrid conference which took place on November 28th once again to celebrate the cause to support advancements in Women's Healthcare.The conference brought together 300+ stakeholders, entrepreneurs, innovators, academic researchers, as well as ecosystem builders to discuss the future of women’s health. It was fantastic to connect with some of the founders in person and to see so many of you gathered online as well.

The Future of Sex & Gender Medicine

The event was kicked off with a keynote speech by Prof. Carole Claire on theThe future of Sex & Gender Medecine and Femtech”. And was followed by an interesting discussion between Prof. Carole Claire, Head of Innovation, Unisanté, Bettina Ernst, Chairwomen of Innovation Council of Swiss Innovation Agency, Biotech Entrepreneur and Investor, Ursula Oesterle, VP, EPFL, Antonella Chadha Santuccione, Chief Medical Officer Altoida, CEO and Co-Founder Women's Brain Project, Vice President Euresearch Woman of the Year, Elena Osto, SNSF-PRIMA Professor, University of Zurich & University Hospital Zurich and moderated by Semira Gonseth Nusslé, Chief Medical Officer, Genknowme.

 Key facts presented by Carole Claire:

- Published studies from the 1980s until 2016 in all different disciplines such as neurology, cancer, pharmacy, surgery and many more highlighted the fact that most of the studies do not address sex and if they do, a few or in the minority address both men and women.

- Another study published few weeks ago in BMJ Medicine including all patients admitted in the Swiss hospital for a myocardial infarct. What we observe there, is that women have less treatments, they get less thrombolysis rescue CA and less coronary artery bypass grafts. So, if you are a woman, you will have less chance to be taken care of and receive the right treatment.

- A pilot study done with the medical students here in Lausanne in which patients who are not really patients but are actors, played the patients during clinical examens.  The conclusion here is that the students are more likely to put the correct diagnosis if it's a woman or almost 50% but if the patient is a man only 20%, will have the correct diagnosis with the same situation. So, the gender gap is not just about women but also about men.

All these examples demonstrate the importance of gendered medicine, i.e., specifically dedicated to men or women according to their physiological and gender-specific needs. 

The panel then went on to discuss the various diseases that affect men and women, but are still treated in the same way. For example, hypertension is one of the main cardiovascular risk factors. It is also the first risk factor for stroke and is responsible for 51% of strokes worldwide. Nearly 11 million people are treated daily for high blood pressure, including more than 1 in 2 people over the age of 65. In addition, 3 to 4 million hypertensives are unaware of their condition. The worst is that we know from research that it seems that the risk for cardiovascular disease in women start to increase at lower level of blood pressure. But we continue making the same diagnosis and giving the same drugs regardless of gender. Everybody wants to understand what the sex differences are but also the gender component. Again, we don't have enough data to develop a different threshold and perhaps also to create different drugs. That is why we need to invest and focus our research because gender is one social determinant among others, such as ethnicity, socio-economic status, or educational level.

Taking sex and gender into account not only improves the quality of research, it is also a source of innovation. "We can contribute to improving the health and reducing the morbidity of women and men by integrating sex and gender dimensions into health research and the training of health professionals," said Professor Clair. There is no shortage of challenges in responding specifically to women's issues. And to meet them, it is essential that companies and especially start-ups come up with new solutions. Bettina Ernst, Chairwoman of the Swiss Innovation Agency, is convinced that investors need to be made aware of this field. "FemTech is an important industry sector that addresses unmet medical needs and deserves our full attention", said Bettina Ernst.

 Bringing concrete solutions to the workplace to promote health and wellbeing of women

We are all looking for the right balance between work and private life, said Ellen Kocher, Economist & Corporate Health Consultant, Swiss Health Promotion & Whealthness. Women account for 47.7% of the global workforce but they cannot perform well if they are exhausted. In March 2022, they coined the term “the great break up” to explain that women are demanding more from work and even more when we talk about Women's Health challenge such as menopause. 72% of businesses still have no policy menopausal. Women are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce, ¾ women experienced symptoms and ¼ serious symptoms. So, how do companies deal with menopause at their workplace?

In the panel, the panellists discussed programs or initiatives to improve the health of women in the workplace. For example, at The Capital Group, one of the largest investment fund managers in the world. Jean-Michel Baudequin, Vice President and Head of International Benefits emphasised that "our long-standing goal of bringing and developing women at all levels of the organisation cannot be achieved without providing the best possible environment. The ability to understand and meet the specific needs of women is central to our approach." But in general, there is still a lot to be done. Economist Ellen Kocher, a certified consultant in the field of corporate health, is certain that improvements in occupational health prevention would benefit the economy as a whole. This is an area in which Switzerland is lagging behind, particularly in relation to women. "Women's health in the workplace, on specific topics such as the menopause or menstruation, is often taboo in Switzerland," said the occupational health specialist.

Jean-Michel Baudequin, Vice President - International Benefits Senior Manager, The Capital Group: “The first step is education and so inform women as men during sessions”. These sessions try to break the bias and the anxiety about the subject. Furthermore, employees have access to a 24/7 telephone support line where they can speak to psychologists. They can talk about menopause, their effects and whatever health issues they might have. There are also forums where people can go and talk, learn or exchange. Then, last October on menopause day, they also launched an app where women can go online and find a lot of resources to help women and men to get a bit more educated about it.

Samira Jafari, Member of Innovation Council of Swiss Innovation Agency, and Global Head Advanced Technologies, Datwyler Group said: “A lot of people immediately assume that manufacturing companies are a male dominated sector, but the fact is actually 40% of their workforce are women. So even if it is more difficult to talk about work flexibility for frontline workers or people in the production line, they try to educate the workforce and basically make the information available, but then also bring the science and fact together to acknowledge when something is not normal and basically provide the help and support for the employees to get the right medical help.”

Sophie Revaz, COO, Groupe Mutuel: They launched on July 21 the internal Tech4Eva club, which is open to all employees not only to women. They organise events both in French and in German and all of that during working time, which is important to point out. Sophie said: “The aim is really to allow our employees to learn more about women’s health, Femtech, new technologies, the challenges around this and so they have presentation about topics on women health issues such as menopause, infertility, pregnancy and career related topics.”

Tech4Eva Program 2022

Lan Zuo Gillet, Deputy Managing Director of EPFL Innovation Park and Co-Founder of Tech4Eva presented the results of the last 2 years of the Tech4Eva initiative and the progress made by the 2022 cohort. 2022 was the year of consolidation and solidifying the program with continued momentum.

More information on the 28 solutions can be found in the full brochure online here.

👉2021 & 2022 Program in numbers:

A selection of start-ups (Aquafit, Hashiona, IMMA Health, Dana, Moona,Wild AI and Ru Medical) also had the opportunity to pitch in the 3D virtual platform of Swiss Accelerator Showcase which you can still visit virtually for the next 3 months here.

Tech4Eva Alumni Spotlight

The spotlight was also on 4 Tech4Eva Alumni 2022 describing their experience of taking part in the accelerator program:

- Rob Milnes, viO Healthtech:” What was really powerful about this program its international nature and its network and reach. We have already taken part in other accelerators before but one of the key learnings here is that Tech4Eva is genuinely global. Women’s health is genuinely a global issue and the solutions have to come globally.”

- Oana Gharbi, Proov: “As a Head of Partnerships of a Femtech company, what I have been struggling before was reaching out to corporates and Tech4Eva actually helped us get in touch with corporate representatives by offering us access to great pool of mentors”.

- Cristina Rossi, b-rayZ: “The quality of the program includes not only the opportunity to connect with corporates, investors and mentors but also the unique possibility of creating a network between entrepreneurs. For us, the last nine months was the right timing and I think the program played a very important role because exactly at the time, where we were reaching out to investors, we were accepted to this program, this gave usa lot of visibility and I think also reinforced the opinion of many of them with the validation. So, thanks to Tech4Eva, we were able to close this round and this is a huge opportunity for us to bring the company to the next level.”

- Nadia Prisant, IMMA Health, “This program was really incredible from start to finish, mostly because finding like-minded people working on Femtech was the start for us. Actually, we started reaching out to the Femtech community in Israel as well so that was also a very good incentive for us. “

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. We are calling all women’s health solutions interested in applying to the 2023 program to apply online here.

Watch the recording of the conference on Tech4Eva’s YouTube Channel here.