Here’s a new word for your business dictionary: femtech.
It was coined a few years back but has been in the headlines of late as companies in the space, which targets women’s health and wellness, landed significant outside investments: $50 million last week for Flo, a smartphone app that tracks menstrual cycles; $75 million in August for Carrot, a fertility benefits manager; $80 million in July for Elvie, which developed a wearable breast pump.
Closer to home, SimpliFed, a virtual lactation consultant founded by a biomedical engineer who lectures at Cornell University, announced last week it raised $500,000 in early-stage funding. (More on that later.)
PitchBook, a Seattle company that tracks the private capital markets, calls 2021 “a landmark year for femtech,” with global venture capital investments passing $1 billion for the first time. The company put the deal count so far this year at 127; 10 years ago, deals numbered just 23 and total deal value was $98 million.
Why all the attention?
FemTech Focus, a nonprofit that organized to champion the space, says it’s time that research and innovation revolutionize healthcare for the half of the world’s population that identifies as female.
That can occur only if investors – usually men leading venture funds comprised of other men – begin to see women’s health and wellness as something other than “niche,” the Houston-based nonprofit says.
And the women’s health market is anything but that, FemTech Focus contends.
In a report released over the summer, it quantified spending in the sector as likely reaching $1.2 trillion globally by 2027 in categories ranging from bone and vaginal health to fertility and cardiovascular issues.
All are ripe for innovation and investment, says the group, “based on the large market size, high demand, and limited players in the space.”
The Upstate Capital Association of New York would agree.
“Women’s health is a new focal point for investors,” says Noa Simons, president and CEO of Upstate Capital, which works to link businesses and investors. “More and more investment dollars are going into solving healthcare challenges that are specific to women…,” she added in a statement. “Paired with broader industry trends in digital health…there is significant innovation impacting women’s health and, increasingly, interest in investment in the sector.”
Thursday, in collaboration with Empire State Development’s innovation and technology division, Upstate Capital will host an online networking event that will feature SimpliFed of Ithaca, founded after CEO Andrea Ippolito saw first-hand how difficult infant feeding can be. She raised the just-landed $500,000 while pregnant with her second child.
Ippolito will participate in an 11-company “Startup Showcase” of pitches for funding, as well as sit in conversation about building a women’s health business.
The event is part of Upstate Capital’s “Invest New York” series, which typically draws between 30 and 70 investors from across the U.S. and Canada.
Marlene Kennedy is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in her column are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach her at [email protected]