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What does the future of femtech look like?

Femtech examines if this year’s early trends could one to watch for 2023

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Femtech futures: Innovation in products

Tech forecasting agency, Ultra Violet Futures has launched a report outlining what it predicts will be the new futures in Femtech for 2023

The femtech industry is set to rise to be a $1.186 trillion global market by 2027. As an emerging sector, it is also poised to expand by adopting new and exciting technology such as techceuticals, virtual clinics or metaverses. The report by Ultraviolet focuses on four key future trends in femtech and what these may look like in 2023. Including Working across the 4 macro trends of Hybrid Health, Enhanced Therapies, Well-th Economy, and Radical Inclusivity 2.0.

So what does this mean for femtech companies looking to enter the market and strength their position?

FemTech World examines the new trends and technologies that are set to shape the industry for 2023

Real artificial worlds

The rise in metauniverses and VR experiences have highlighted a desire to go beyond technology and place ourselves within virtual worlds. This is only set to continue as companies such as Facebook, or Meta as it is called now, move to position themselves within artificial worlds or build their own.

Although so far, the worlds are limited to very basic experiences such as entering stores to purchase products that then appear at your door in real-time. However, there is a growing movement to see how this could be taken beyond the 2D into real touch much the way that sound and vision are already incorporated.

Meta has already begun developing a product for this called ReSkin. This is an open-source touch-sensing ‘skin’ which has created in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. It is aimed at helping researchers to advance their AI’s tactile-sensing skills quickly and at scale. It should produce enough data to help advance AI in a wide range of touch-based tasks including object classification, proprioception, and robotic grasping.

What would this mean for femtech companies?

Introducing a softer touch or interactive experience to healthcare could be a game-changer. As we introduce more senses into the virtual experience then it ceases to become a sterile environment. It could help to build a complete experience for the patient where they can feel relaxed, at home in their own surroundings but with full access to a complete health check-up or experts.

But are patients ready for this?

After two years of pandemic Zoom appointments says, well, yes. In a recent study, 78 per cent of consumers said when interacting with people online, they ‘missed the ability to physically touch or interact with them.’ While the metaverse may only be emerging as a potentially viable opportunity for brands, it could be vital that companies assess new alternative methods of reaching their audience – on or offline.

Femtech futures: Innovation in products
Radical inclusivity

This has already started within health and femtech with more companies leading the charge in inclusive language, apps, marketing and healthcare.

There has been a huge gap in the market for products that acknowledge the fluidity of gender and the limits that ‘his or her’ tech devices can have. Companies particularly in the femtech, period care or sextech industries have already introduced gender-neutral language, non-gendered toys or even marketing that is non-gender biased.

Studies show that women make up only a quarter of tech developers in the market which may explain why female tech developers are embracing inclusivity in their companies. A glass ceiling needs to be properly smashed for everyone not just one sector.

By embracing other minority groups within the products, femtech designers are addressing needs that are generally not catered for with mainstream concepts. One example of this is FEWE’s marketing campaign around transmen who experience periods and need menstrual care products. Their slogan instantly sets the tone: ‘female-founded cycle care for every phase, for everybody.’

In addressing this, the gender pain or data gap becomes smaller as we begin to learn more.

New future for women in femtech

The report also noted that femtech companies are more inclined to embrace flexible working patterns which can help women with reaching their life goals.

It acknowledged that women were being overlooked by policymakers when it came to professional or familial support. This meant a ‘mass exodus of women from the workplace’ that has a knock-on effect on the gender pay or data gap. The results mean more men in board rooms than women.

The pandemic has forced creative thinking around schedules and normalcy in our careers but this is slowly moving back to a nine to five in office model post-lockdown. Femtech companies are determined to drive action-orientated change that aims to find a solution.

One great example is Carrot fertility, a female-founded tech that allows employees to request fertility coaching at their jobs. The benefits of fertility coaching are thought to be better stress or anxiety management and also reduced costs. But it can be simple such as flexible working times for mums or hybrid working for pregnant workers. Other innovative solutions could also mean breast milk shipping services for working mothers.

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Canadian insurer launches partnership to support women’s health

Members of the Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross will have access to a dedicated women’s health platform

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Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving

The Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross (MBC) has partnered with the virtual health platform sanoLiving to support women on their menopause journey.

Currently, more than 10 million Canadian women are navigating menopause, often with little support and misinformation about treatments.

With sanoMidLife, sanoLiving’s online menopause platform, Medavie Blue Cross members will have access to a national women’s health platform tailored to provide care and services for women going through the menopause.

The service includes personalised assessments, access to clinicians, treatments, educational content, peer support and AI assistance.

“Many women lack support for their menopause transition due to the misunderstandings of what is ‘normal’ and misinformation about treatments,” said Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving.

“Women are seeking solutions that allow them to thrive during midlife. We are thrilled about our alliance with Medavie Blue Cross, and our shared commitment to providing access to care that empowers women.”

Anita Swamy, senior vice president operations at Medavie Blue Cross, added: “We’ve heard first-hand from our members about the need for more menopause-related services.

“Our partnership with sanoLiving creates an innovative way to increase access to care for our members as we continue to focus on the support women need to navigate their benefits and provide forward-thinking options to support their health.”

Studies report one in 10 women exit the workforce due to unmanaged symptoms. Early onset of menopause and symptoms before age 45 can elevate the risk of health issues like heart disease, diabetes, dementia and osteoporosis.

With this new service, Medavie Blue Cross and sanoLiving are aiming to open up the conversation around menopause, reduce stigma and work towards giving women the access to the care they need.

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US start-up raises US$2.32m to address pelvic health concerns

The Flyte intravaginal device aims to treat stress urinary incontinence and strengthen pelvic floor muscles

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The US women’s health start-up Pelvital has raised US$2.32m in funding to address “unanswered” pelvic health issues.

Minnesota-based Pelvital aims to restore pelvic health with its first product Flyte, an FDA-cleared intravaginal treatment for stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and weakened pelvic floor muscles.

The device, originally developed by physicians from the Arctic University of Norway, uses mechanotherapy, a treatment modality that when paired with an active pelvic floor contraction stimulates tissue regeneration and the creation of neuromuscular memory.

The company will use the funding to speed up the commercialisation of Flyte and raise awareness of pelvic health issues.

“Completing this round is an important step in continuing Pelvital’s unwavering dedication to provide women with innovative solutions for pelvic health, including the treatment of SUI,” said Lydia Zeller, president and CEO of Pelvital.

“This funding will play a crucial role in accelerating our commercialisation of Flyte with a strong emphasis on expanding payor coverage and enhancing clinical education and clinician awareness.”

With this final close, Zeller said, Pelvital would welcome new investors including Pier 70 Ventures, Life Science Angels, Tech Coast Angels Orange County, and Blue Pacific Fund.

Preetha Ram, managing partner at Pier 70 Ventures, would join the Pelvital board of directors.

“Joining Pelvital’s board alongside this investment round is truly an honour,” Ram shared.

“Pier 70 and I are thrilled to be part of this transformational opportunity, as Pelvital’s mission aligns beautifully with our dedication to support disruptive technologies that shake up the status quo in healthcare.

“Pelvital’s pioneering work is shaping a future where women’s health receives the attention and innovation it deserves with novel medical devices like Flyte.”

Oscar Moralez, founder and managing partner of Boomerang Ventures who led the investment round, said: “We are thrilled for the successful completion of this round as we aim to tackle the most pressing healthcare challenges.

“Our participation aims to address the chronic underfunding in women’s healthcare. Investing in Flyte, a truly groundbreaking treatment, addresses underserved pelvic health issues like SUI and contributes to raising vital awareness.”

Two published clinical trials have validated Flyte’s safety, efficacy and durability of treatment effect for women with SUI.

Most recently Pelvital published a paper in Therapeutic Advances in Urology, showing that 71 per cent of study participants achieved dry or near dry conditions as evidenced by a reduction in 24-hour pad weight after using Flyte for between two and 12 weeks.

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Cleveland Clinic launches new women’s health and research center

The programme aims to address women’s unique health needs during midlife and beyond

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From left: Cleveland Clinic CEO and president Dr Tom Mihaljevic, Maria Shriver and Dr Beri Ridgeway / Source: clevelandclinic.org

Cleveland Clinic has launched its new Women’s Comprehensive Health and Research Center, an initiative dedicated to helping women during midlife.

The center, which will focus on access, connectivity, education and research and innovation, aims to empower women to navigate their health journey with confidence and clarity.

Maria Shriver, founder of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention and Research Center at Cleveland Clinic, will serve as chief visionary and strategic advisor.

“I’ve always believed our nation needed a first-class comprehensive women’s health center, and now we have one,” said Shriver.

“Over the past several years, I’ve been honoured to work alongside so many talented and passionate doctors at Cleveland Clinic to bring this vision to life. This is a place for women at every stage of life where they will feel seen, will get the research they need, and the care they deserve, from their brains to their bones.

“I am thrilled that today the WAM Prevention and Research Center expands, as it deserves to.”

Dr Tom Mihaljevic, Cleveland Clinic CEO and president, said: “Maria’s unwavering commitment to raising awareness and driving meaningful change aligns perfectly with the mission of our new center.

“Her passion for advancing the quality of care for women is remarkable and will help us transform how we deliver care for women today and into the future.”

The population of women in midlife and in need of healthcare continues to grow. According to US Census Bureau 2020 data, more than 63 million women in the US are 50 years of age or older, and approximately 6,000 women enter menopause each day.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 80 per cent of women aged 55 and older have at least one chronic condition, such as arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, which strengthens the need for more comprehensive medical care for women in this stage of life.

The new Women’s Comprehensive Health and Research Center will bring together specialty care in various areas, including behavioural health, breast health, cardiovascular care, center for infant and maternal health, endocrinology, menopause, osteoporosis and metabolic bone density, wellness and disease prevention.

Through initiatives focused on streamlining appointment processes, enhancing outreach programmes and prioritising health equity, the center will seek to ensure that all women can readily access the care they need.

“Midlife is an important milestone and a time to empower women to address health issues and focus on future health,” said Dr Beri Ridgeway, chief of staff at Cleveland Clinic.

“Taking a holistic approach, including menopausal and hormonal health, reproductive health, mental health, chronic conditions and preventive care, is critical to optimise health outcomes.

“Our priority is to help women in this stage of life make educated decisions about their health and have access to the services they need to thrive, while also feeling seen, heard and supported.”

The center, Ridgeway said, will offer support groups and resources to help address health disparities, reach diverse communities and bridge gaps in health literacy.

The institution’s ultimate mission, she explained, is to advance research and innovation specific to women during midlife.

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