A joint program between EPFL Innovation Park and Groupe Mutuel
Call for Application 2022 Opening soon!
Next Roadshow November 17th
Program Duration 9 months
October 19, 2022

Tech4Eva’s London Roadshow Recap

At the Tech4Eva London Roadshow in partnership with the Embassy of Switzerland in the UK: “The connection to the UK”, we had the opportunity to meet investors, experts, and leaders in the healthcare field. We heard pitches from Tech4Eva’s growth start-up and got insights from two interesting panels on the topics of: “Answering the unmet needs in women’s health” & “Building a successful Femtech company”

Answering the unmet needs in women’s health

Priya Oberoi, General Partner at Goddess Gaia Ventures; Dearbhail Ormond founder & CEO of the Frendo App and Katherine Gilroy, Scale Team Lead at Seeds discussed the unmet needs in women’s health that are yet to be answered and addressed through innovation and investment in the space, as well as the role of technology in addressing these needs.

Despite representing 50% of the population, women are significantly underrepresented in health research and clinical trials, and this results in worse health outcomes for women. Katherine highlighted some statistics which are quite shocking showing that there is 5x more research about erectile dysfunction which by the way only impacts 19% of men than for example premenstrual syndrome or PMS which impacts 90% of people who have periods.

On the positive side, it's now estimated that by 2027 the global Femtech market is expected to be valued at over $60 billion which is up from $22 billion just two years ago in 2020. In fact, there has never been more interests, activity, and innovation in this sector, and this represents a huge opportunity for women, founders, and investors alike.

The discussion led us to understand that reproductive illnesses like endometriosis and clinical trials are the sectors which have not been yet tackled. There is very limited research on endometriosis, but it doesn't mean there's no data at all. Some of the products that have been built for consumers or patients today are limited by the research that's available.Why is that? Because, until recently we weren't having the open conversations about the topics that affect more than half the population and so the need wasn't so blatant. Now the conversations are more open, and we hope that the requested steps will be undertaken.

“If we don’t have data from clinical trials, we cannot progress, we cannot innovate and we cannot develop better treatment pathways” said Dearbhail Ormond of Frendo App.

Furthermore, oncology is also a sector which needs more innovation: early detection for breast cancer is still the best way to prevent an augmentation of deaths. Moreover, there is a real absence of preventative medicine. “Why do we deal with the problems after the fact? Why do we not have a way of living life in a better more holistic way such as better monitoring, better eating? Let’s not leave it to the last minute to deal with the problem – I would like to see more innovation in oncology and prevention” said Priya Oberoi of Goddess Gaia Ventures.

Engaging pharma and all stakeholders

What we must do now, is engage pharma to get involved more to get data and run clinical trials that are more inclusive. The big pharma companies are paying much more attention now to women's health and that's positive. They need to collaborate with start-ups more to innovate.

For example, there is research that was published recently about covid about the impact of the COVID-19 vaccine on menstrual cycles. The collected data from users around the globe and the results of that report really validated a lot of things lots of people who have periods thought, saw, and felt. That’s crazy if they had not done this study, we would have been left with questions about that forever. So, in order to not leave other questions unanswered and unmet needs, we need to educate people and engage government for grants, investors, educators, universities, and actually the entire ecosystem.  

Investment and opportunity

For Priya, an investor, solutions in the space make money, it’s not just a cause to help women’s health. There is an enormous opportunity to profit from this market. Healthcare investments take a bit longer than other sectors as clinical trials take time, but the market opportunity remains huge. We need to work together on creating this incredible investment environment.

For Dearbhail, a founder, women's health is also economic empowerment of women, we already know that women are the main drivers behind healthcare decisions, and we are going to see more development of digital health tools. In fact, women are 75% more likely to use digital and tools for healthcare than their male counterparts and it's an exciting space to be in. Finally, we must believe in ourselves, we do have to fight back a little bit to respond our unmet needs. We believe in our future!

Building a successful Femtech company

We also had the chance to hear first-hand from founder’s experience how to build a successful Femtech company and how they provide a solution in the space of unmet needs. For this panel we had Susan Herbert as moderator, who has worked as Head of Strategy for Merck healthcare business and is now acting as Life Science Advisor for a number of start-up companies including Tech4Eva’s cohort.

Matthieu Horras, CEO and Co-Founder of Aspivix. He founded the company a few years ago after an MBA and many years in the medical device industry. Aspivix is developing a new generation of cervical stabilizer, that is designed to replace the cervical tenaculum which is painful and is triggering bleeding in millions of transcervical procedures every year. The most known procedure is probably the intrauterine device insertion. They first fundraised about four years ago, and they are they will be launching our product in the first quarter next year in 2023. https://www.aspivix.com/

Kim Palmer, Founder & CEO of Clementine, a mindset company. They are on this huge mission to create a world where everywoman really believes that she can do anything that she puts her mind to. They created an award-winning cognitive hypnotherapy app and basically it provides lots of short sessions that support with physical as like hot flashes, sleeplessness as well as emotional challenges that many women face around stress and anxiety. They also recently announced a partnership with No7 UK leading skincare brand who co-created a menopause skin range to be combined with the new digital app rituals of Clementine to better support women along their menopause journey. https://clementineapp.com/

Daniela Schardinger, VP Marketing and Medical Affairs of OCON Health Care, which stands for “O” configuration: They have a little ball that's introduced into the uterus, and it delivers different therapies directly to the target tissue. These are therapies for abnormal and heavy uterine bleeding, and they are developing products for myomas/fibroids and for menopause. They already have one product commercialized that's used for contraception which is a non-hormonal intrauterine device and were recently recognized by WEF as Technology Pioneer2022. https://oconmed.com/

Summary key takeaways:

- Building a team is hard and the Founder can sometimes be the biggest obstacle to themselves and the growth of the company

- Learn from past experiences and managing yourself and your mindset (downtime is important as well to give brain a break to come up with new ideas)

- Most rewarding job in the world and at same time most frustrating as well

- Follow your own path

- Fundraising is difficult due to lack of understanding and empathy to the problems of the sector by investors, thankfully things are slowly changing with more investments to create more exits in the future and more female investors or funds

- Talk to experts and opinion leaders to think beyond the box to create new strategy i.e., rethink your addressable market and use of your solution and messaging if needed

- Make sure that your employees know your values very early on and what you are expecting from them

- Understand the differences between the markets, languages, legal, cultures, regulations before deciding where to operate or establish your company

- Choose the right partners to grow

- Be prepared to change your business model when needed

- Learn and apply quickly throughout your journey i.e., go-to-market

- Think about how to create a bigger impact – more collaboration and better outcome for people

- The future of Femtech is promising

We thank all speakers for their participation and enriching talks. To watch the full recording of the event, visit our YouTube Channel