Femtech

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Femtech (or female technology) is a term applied to a category of software, diagnostics, products, and services that use technology often to focus on women's health.[1][2][3] This sector includes fertility solutions, period-tracking app, pregnancy and nursing care, women's sexual wellness, and reproductive system health care.[2][4]

Overview[edit]

The concept of a digital women's health category is relatively new.[2][5][6][7][8] Femtech was coined in 2016 by Ida Tin, a Danish entrepreneur who founded Clue, a period- and fertility-tracking app.[5][6][9] As an industry, femtech largely encompasses any digital or standard health tools aimed at women's health, including wearables, internet-connected medical devices, mobile apps, hygiene products, and others.[5][10]

Companies and products[edit]

There are numerous femtech companies offering a variety of different products throughout the world. Companies that produce period- and/or fertility-tracking mobile apps include, Clue, DOT, Glow,[11] Eve, Cycles, My Calendar, Life,[5][12] FertilityIQ, Extend Fertility, Forte Medical, Flo, Lady Cycle and others.[2][6][8][13] Companies that offer services like IVF, egg freezing, and medical treatments include Univfy,[14] Progyny, Apricity and Prelude Fertility.[6] Similarly, the fertility company, Ava, produces a wearable that tracks fertility.[15] By contrast, Nurx provides a telemedicine service where women can get birth control prescribed via an app, and have the pills delivered.[6] Twentyeight Health, another birth control delivery service, takes this model a step further by providing resources for underserved women and Medicaid populations.[16] Companies like Gennev address menopause issues.

Several companies also produce internet-connected medical devices that are often paired with mobile apps to track specific data. For instance, Elvie and Willow produce a wearable breast pump.[1] The Elvie breast pump also connects to an app.[5][8] Elvie also offers a kegel-tracking device.[17] Elvie was founded by entrepreneur, Tania Boler, and backed financially by entrepreneur-turned-investor, Nicole Junkermann, a specialist in the Femtech sector.[18][19][20]kegg recently launched a 2-in-1 fertility tracker that senses electrolyte levels of cervical fluid and assists the user in pelvic floor exercises. Lioness produces a smart vibrator with an app that uses biofeedback to help people learn more about their own bodies.[1] Other medical devices and implements produced in the femtech category may or may not use an internet connection. Joylux is a women's health technology company creating medical and feminine wellness devices under the vSculpt and vFit brands. Companies like L. and Flex offer alternatives to standard tampon and condom products.[5] Thinx sells reusable underwear that absorbs menstrual blood.[1] iPulse Medical sells a menstrual pain relief wearable device.[21]

Swedish company Natural Cycles was the first to receive official approval to market its app as digital contraception in the European Union and in August 2018 the Food and Drug Administration approved marketing in the U.S.[22] Controversy around the app as a contraceptive device grew stronger after numerous women in Stockholm reported unplanned pregnancies after using the app.[23] After Swedish authorities concluded the investigation, the amount of unintended pregnancies was found to be in line with claims made by Natural Cycles.[24]

Innovators in the breastfeeding/breast-pumping space like Milk Stork make the logistics of being a working, traveling, breastfeeding mom manageable through breast milk shipping services.[25]

Venture capital investments[edit]

In 2015, Femtech startups raised around $82 million in funding from investment firms.[2][7]

In March 2017, it was reported that the total amount of funding raised by femtech companies since 2014 had reached $1.1 billion.[1][5]

Frost & Sullivan Market Research report on Femtech states that the market is under penetrated but has the potential to reach $9.4 billion by 2024.[26]

Maven, an online company focused on improved healthcare access, received $27 million to expand their services to breast milk delivery.[27] Cora, which sells organic pads, tampons and personal care products, received $7.5 million to begin selling their products in Target stores.[28]

In early 2019, Elvie raised $42 million in Series B funding, for a total of more than $50 million since their 2013 founding.[29]

Estimates suggest that around $200 billion is being spent on femtech products each year.[6]

According to Forbes,[30] femtech companies face challenges in raising money, because women's health issues are not always understood by investors, women are underrepresented in the investment community, and female founders are reluctant to ask for money. Just 10% of global investment goes to female-led startups.[31]

Data Bridge, a research firm, predicts that by 2026 the global fertility industry could raise up to $41 billion in sales, from $25 billion today.[32]

Ethics[edit]

There has been concerns about data-sharing practices in Femtech, particularly within fertility-trackers. Some apps have come under fire for ambiguous privacy ethics after it emerged that user data had been shared (without consent) with companies such as Facebook [33][34]. This allowed Facebook, and other companies that Facebook shares their data with, to target users with ferttility or pregnancy related products based around which point in their monthly menstural cycle they were. Some have argues this is harmful, as it assumes things such as intended eventual pregnancy and disregards alternate conception outcomes such as termination or miscarriage[35].

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Fromm, Mona (4 March 2017). "The Femtech Revolution". Handelsblatt. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Richmond, Jill (31 December 2016). "The New Year Of Optimisim For Femtech". Forbes. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  3. ^ Mack, Heather (30 November 2016). "Clue gets $20M to enhance intelligence of period-tracking app, grow team". MobiHealthNews. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  4. ^ Thompson, Melissa (5 January 2017). "2016 Saw Huge Improvements in FemTech; Here's Why". The Sociable. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Magistretti, Bérénice (5 February 2017). "The rise of femtech: women, technology, and Trump". VentureBeat. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Hinchliffe, Emma (29 December 2016). "Why 2016 was a huge year for women's health tech". Mashable. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  7. ^ a b Caspi, Heather (15 September 2016). "Rise of 'femtech' promises health solutions for women". Healthcare Dive. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Mack, Heather (16 September 2016). "Digital health tools for women a growing, necessary and wanted market". MobiHealthNews. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  9. ^ Baker; Gabriel, Hostetler LLP-Jessie M.; Ravi, Tara. "Women Investing in Women's Health: The Rise of Femtech Companies and Investors in Celebration of Women's History Month | Lexology". www.lexology.com. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  10. ^ Parker, Leia (13 September 2016). "Will the "femtech" revolution really offer a "digital contraceptive" and detect diseases through a phone?". Silicon Valley Business Journal. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  11. ^ Burke, Adrienne Jane (17 October 2013). "When the Quantified Self Wants to Conceive a Child". Techonomy Media. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  12. ^ Buhr, Sarah (30 November 2016). "Period tracking app Clue pulls in $20 million Series B from Nokia Growth Partners". TechCrunch. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Testsieger Stiftung Warentest Zyklus-Apps". Zyklus-Apps - Stiftung Warentest. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  14. ^ Burke, Adrienne Jane (4 March 2013). "Startup's Data Helps Women Succeed with In Vitro Fertilization". Techonomy Media. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  15. ^ Hinchliffe, Emma (19 November 2016). "The next frontier in wearables is helping couples conceive". Mashable. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Twentyeight Health is a telemedicine company expanding access to women's health and reproductive care". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  17. ^ Magistretti, Bérénice (22 March 2017). "Femtech startup Elvie raises $6 million for its kegel tracker". VentureBeat. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  18. ^ Tucker, Charlotte (2021-03-08). ""When I first approached investors, I was told women's health products were too 'niche'": Interview with Elvie's CEO and co-founder, Tania Boler". EU-Startups. Retrieved 2021-04-27.
  19. ^ Tobin, Lucy (2019-11-18). "Entrepreneurs: 'Femtech' firm Elvie is aiming to boost women's health". www.standard.co.uk. Retrieved 2021-04-27.
  20. ^ "Query Builder | Investors". Crunchbase. Retrieved 2021-04-27.
  21. ^ "The Israeli invention that could end period pain". The Times of Israel. 2016-05-02. Retrieved 2019-01-17.
  22. ^ Ong, Thuy (2017-08-15). "This app is certified in the EU as a form of birth control. Is the US next?". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  23. ^ "Hyped birth control app Natural Cycles has been reported to the authorities - after 37 unwanted pregnancies". nordic.businessinsider.com. 2018-01-11. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  24. ^ "Swedish regulator says contraceptive app works as advertised". Engadget. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  25. ^ Holley, Peter (19 October 2017). "The latest way companies are luring top female talent: Breast milk shipping". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  26. ^ https://store.frost.com/growth-opportunities-in-the-global-femtech-market-forecast-to-2024.html
  27. ^ "This year is setting records for femtech funding | PitchBook". pitchbook.com. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  28. ^ Cora. "Cora Raises $7.5 Million in Funding and Adds Seasoned Executives to Board". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  29. ^ Raphael, Rina (2019-04-02). "Breast-pump maker Elvie raises $42 million in biggest femtech investment yet". Fast Company. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  30. ^ "Is Technology Pink? Investments in Femtech to Cross the $1.3 Billion Mark in 2020". Forbes. 24 September 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  31. ^ "Digital contraceptives and period trackers: the rise of femtech". The Guardian. 12 October 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  32. ^ "The fertility business is booming". The Economist. 8 August 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  33. ^ Schechner; Secada, Sam; Mark (22 February 2019). ""You Give Apps Sensitive Personal Information. Then They Tell Facebook"".CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  34. ^ Healy, Rachael Louise (2021-05-19). "Zuckerberg, get out of my uterus! An examination of fertility apps, data-sharing and remaking the female body as a digitalized reproductive subject". Journal of Gender Studies. 30 (4): 406–416. doi:10.1080/09589236.2020.1845628. ISSN 0958-9236.
  35. ^ Healy, Rachael Louise (2021-05-19). "Zuckerberg, get out of my uterus! An examination of fertility apps, data-sharing and remaking the female body as a digitalized reproductive subject". Journal of Gender Studies. 30 (4): 406–416. doi:10.1080/09589236.2020.1845628. ISSN 0958-9236.