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INNOVATION| 24.03.2021

The take-off of femtech

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In recent years new startups have appeared that are led by women and that focus on creating technology solutions in the field of women’s health.

Now and then a new piece of terminology appears to describe a trend that is growing and growing. Femtech is a good example of this — not only is it a term that more and more people are talking about, but it has also become one of the industries where the most money is being invested and that has seen the most profound evolution in recent years. The concept of femtech encompasses all those companies, usually startups, that use technology to improve women’s well-being and health.

On the basis of that premise, it seems clear that this is a market niche that previously didn’t have enough coverage—for several reasons that we will point out below—and that is set to continue to turn heads. Some studies suggest that in 2025 the femtech market will be worth around 50 billion dollars.

Entrepreneurial alternatives in fast-growing sectors are becoming an increasingly common phenomenon. But beyond the economic aspect, the most important thing about the emergence of companies that innovate in the area of women’s health and care is the development of specialized solutions for half of the world’s population. It is estimated that 80 percent of spending on health products is done by women, who also make 90 percent of household decisions on health issues. In addition, two out of three female Internet users often search for health-related information.


When did femtech appear?

The term femtech was first coined by Denmark’s Ida Tin, the creator of the app Clue, which monitors menstrual health and currently has more than 8 million users across 180 countries.

At that time, Ida Tin signaled a trend that has now become a reality: the increase in technological innovations related to fertility. According to the Danish entrepreneur, until then this aspect had not traditionally been part of “female care” but the introduction of technology meant each individual’s needs could be met.

Tim’s message undoubtedly struck a chord, as, since then the emergence of new startups—generally led by female entrepreneurs—seeking solutions to women’s health needs has been constant. At this point it should be noted that, as Frost & Sullivan warns, only 4 percent of research and development funds dedicated to health products and services are aimed at researching women’s health.

The evolution of femtech

As one might imagine, the evolution of femtech can be counted not only in economic terms and in the number of new applications, tools and gadgets, but also in their degree of sophistication. As technology evolves, it becomes present in the startups that continue to emerge in this growing business segment.

To see proof of this, you only have to look at some examples of companies that have found a niche and are winning with novel value propositions. Take WOOM, for example. This startup, which collaborates with the program insur_space by MAPFRE to bring its innovations to more women, combines its professional experience in the technology field with the personal experiences of its female co-founders, Laurence Fontinoy and Clelia Morales. This formula has produced “applications that enable women to understand and gain more knowledge on how our bodies work.” WOOM covers all stages of women’s reproductive health (conception, pregnancy and post partum), accompanying them in their daily lives with personalized menstrual and fertility calendars, as well as other tools supported by medical professionals. At the same time, emotional well-being is prioritized.

Other startups that stand out, both for what they offer and for their ever-increasing customer bases, include:

Elvie. Founded by one of the biggest names in femtech, Tania Boler, the Elvie business is based on two products: a pelvic floor trainer that allows the user to perform Kegel exercises while connecting to a smartphone via Bluetooth, and a “hands-free” breast pump for women who have just given birth that is wireless, portable and represents a complete revolution.

Ava. A bracelet, to be worn during sleeping hours only, that is already available for sale in 36 countries and that provides real-time information on fertility, pregnancy and overall health. The bracelet is also able to detect the five most fertile days of the month in real-time, by monitoring five different signals.

LactApp. An app that uses a number of AI functionalities to provide all kinds of information on breastfeeding and motherhood.

STEM careers

Furthermore, the launch of femtech could have a huge impact on the emergence of female role models in the ICT sector — specifically in terms of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers, which are usually taken up by male students.

The fact that there are few female STEM students in higher education has two negative consequences. The first is that there will continue to be a shortage of technical professionals, who are the most in-demand nowadays. Given that women account for just over 50 percent of students, if there are few women who choose STEM careers then the market will continue to experience a shortage of qualified individuals.

Secondly, it should be noted that the jobs with the greatest future prospects and in which salaries tend to be higher are those related to engineering, technology and science. With fewer women in these sectors, the wage gap will also tend to be larger, which will have a negative impact on the struggle for women’s equality in the labor market.

This is clear from a study by the Organization of Ibero-American States, which points out that only 13 percent of students studying STEM degrees in Spain are women. This is certainly an alarming figure. However, with the arrival of new startups this may change, as such companies represent a mirror in which many young people will be able to see themselves in the future.