A joint program between EPFL Innovation Park and Groupe Mutuel
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Next Roadshow November 17th
Program Duration 9 months
July 12, 2021

The FemTech revolution gains momentum with Tech4Eva Zurich Roadshow

The Digital health revolution gives FemTech momentum at Tech4Eva Zurich Roadshow

Corporate and health systems representatives, investors and FemTech innovators discuss investment opportunities and health trends in digital health.

The global digital health market is on the rise and digital health solutions addressing women’s issues are an integral part of the rise. The second Tech4Eva roadshow, on July 1st, focused on sharing business resources, market opportunities and investment options in digital health and in FemTech. The 3-hour virtual event convened 180+ investors, corporate representatives, start-ups CEO and health systems to find collaborations and support a critical and growing segment in digital health trends: women’s health.

Sophie Revaz, COO at Groupe Mutuel, one of the co-founder partners of Tech4Eva, explained the importance in focusing on women’s health needs: “We insure people: it’s a great responsibility. We have 1.3 million individual customers and close to 26’000 corporate clients. Nearly 50% of them are women and so are 63% of our employees. We think that technology and innovative solutions should also be at the service of all these women”. From the corporate environment’s perspective, she explains that Groupe Mutuel “clearly see that its corporate clients’ needs are evolving. They have understood that prevention and health management are key success factors and, therefore, are looking for more support. For example, we have experienced the need of these clients for mid-wives for pregnancy cases, but also for other topics that are less and less taboos, such as mental health, contraception, fertility or menopause.”

Another important reason to normalise women’s health issues is the impact that their health has on their work-life. As explained by Trudi Haemmerli, Partner at SNGLR group, and Oriana Kraft, host and producer of the ETH FemTech Summit, the first step is still to bring awareness among the general public and make these issues mainstream. Trudi Haemmerli points out that “it takes a lot of courage to ask for a chair in work environments so that you can put your feet up because you are heavily pregnant, without negatively impacting you”. She adds “How often do you hear women asking to step out? It’s very rare, but I’ve realised that the more I talked about this stuff and integrated it in my daily life, the more it became normalised. People may joke about it but including those points in the conversation makes a big difference. If we don’t talk about it and we don’t demystify it, no one is going to support you or find it acceptable, and you just suffer in silence. These topics need to become part of our daily work life, so that we can finally make a big difference.”

Besides, as Sophie points out, better health is the foundation for a successful career that consequently benefit the entire society and economy.

A key step in normalising these issues also involves addressing the sex differences in research, testing and treatment in the medical field. ETH medical student Oriana, particularly focused on this point, highlighting the importance of bringing awareness and even encouraging to improve doctors’ education. “We have a tendency to believe that the only difference between men and women are reproductive organs, but the truth is that there are sex differences in every single cell of the human body. This impacts the way all diseases manifest, such as the way heart attacks manifest, the propensity to lung cancer, as well as the way you metabolise. Since this is not as well-known as it should be, we have a one-size-fit-all approach: a lot of drug dosages for example are made for 70kg males, which are obviously not the right dosages for women that will have to suffer from a lot of extra side effects that men won’t have to suffer from. These problems arise because of many reasons, including the fact that women were excluded from clinical trials, because fluctuations in their hormones were considered as “too complicated”. But if we don’t research, we won’t have the needed solutions”.

Not surprisingly, “evolving clinical trials” and data gathering are part of the current major issues that need to be addressed in the health industry and will shape healthcare across the world in the years to come, as showcased by Isma Hachi, Senior Manager Life Sciences at PwC Switzerland. Along with research and trials’ development, Isma highlighted other digital trends, such as finding the right balance of in-person care and virtual clinical care - the latter, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, having huge potential, if patients are provided with the right experience and if data privacy and security issues are well-addressed.

Exchanges and development, leading elements of the event discussions, are a key part of the Tech4Eva platform in order to build a community of innovation around digital health and women’s health. During the roadshow the newly created focus groups were presented, whose objective in the Tech4Eva program is to foster collaborations between start-ups, experts and corporates. These focus group have been grouped into four main areas: (1) Prevention & Wellness, (2) Pregnancy, (3) Fertility and (4) Menopause, Incontinence & Period Health – check our event website page for updates and registrations.

The 15 growth-stage start-up pitches finally opened the floor for a second panel discussion on current and future funding opportunities for FemTech start-ups, moderated by Pascal Koenig, co-founder of AVA Women and joined by Caroline Gueissaz, Director of Business Angels Switzerland, Oender Boyman, Investment Principal at Swiss Post Ventures, Therese Maria Liechtenstein, Principal at M Ventures and Klea Wenger, Investment Manager at Swisscom Ventures, which openly shared the investor’s perspective when looking for real innovations and contributed with honest insights for start-ups. Key learnings included the importance of planning in advance before calling for help, avoiding overselling but remaining passionate, acknowledging that there is not a one-size-fit-all approach when it comes to start-ups’ scrutiny and giving sufficient time to investors to review - check our YouTube channel to watch the full event.

The next Roadshow will take place in London on September 21st and 22nd, 2021 with a focus on strategic partnerships and FemTech technologies scale-up.