Elvie’s former president and global chief marketing officer is taking up a new role as a leading advisor at femtech start-up Béa Fertility.
Darren Goode led Elvie to become a health tech brand with revenues exceeding US$26m. He now joins Béa as the team gears up to bring its fertility device to market.
Béa Fertility is developing the world’s first clinical-grade at-home fertility treatment by bringing back intracervical insemination (ICI) in an attempt to level the playing field when it comes to assisted conception and provide access to affordable fertility treatment
Co-founded by Tess Cosad, medical doctor Dr Louise Rix and product engineer George Thomas, the company aims to become the first affordable step on the fertility journey for people struggling to conceive.
Expected to launch in summer 2023, the Béa device will enable couples with infertility to carry out a simple ICI treatment at home, before exploring other costly clinical treatment options.
ICI has been shown to have efficacy of 50 per cent over six cycles of treatment, and was recently included in the NICE clinical guidelines as a recommended approach to fertility treatment.
The start-up raised US$1m in pre-seed funding last year to expand their team and bring their fertility solution to market.
As a key advisor, Goode will help steer Béa’s marketing and growth strategies, with the aim of making the Béa device a category leader.
He will support the creation of a commercial infrastructure to support both UK and international growth, working with the CEO on brand strategy, positioning, growth and fundraising.
Darren brings over twenty-five years’ global marketing and commercial experience from the likes of Apple, L’Oreal, P&G, Paramount Pictures, Elvie and Babylon Health.
“I’m really excited to be joining Tess and the wider Béa team at this critical stage in their journey,” the new adviser said.
“My first child was born through IVF, so I’m acutely aware of the complex challenges surrounding fertility. Currently, there’s really nothing available between trying (and struggling) to conceive and going to a fertility clinic.
“This is what drew me to Béa. This is the first time I’ve seen fertility innovation that isn’t just offering advice or a new route into clinics, but is getting to the very heart of the problem and offering a totally new treatment solution.”
He added: “My role will be equal parts operational, practical, philosophical and pastoral. Tess is an inspiring founder and I can’t wait to see where we can take this.”
Tess Cosad, CEO and co-founder at Béa Fertility, said: “I’ve been working with Darren since the inception of Béa, and at every step of the journey his advice has been invaluable.
“I couldn’t think of a better leader and advocate to have in our corner, and look forward to seeing where we can take the company with Darren on board.”
How we can address the gender imbalance in fertility testing
Everyone has heard of the female biological clock, but not many people know that male fertility declines throughout adulthood too
Although one in six couples globally have difficulty conceiving, infertility remains a woman’s social burden. We need to address male infertility, says Lily Elsner.
Infertility affects 186 million people worldwide and, despite everything society has led us to believe, one-third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive issues.
Male infertility can be caused by low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. Some men may also experience fertility issues due to chronic health problems, illnesses and lifestyle choices.
How come no one talks about it? To date, fertility has been firmly cast as a “woman’s issue”, irrespective of men being half of the fertility equation.
Everyone has heard of the female biological clock, but not many people realise that male fertility declines throughout adulthood too. Research shows that men will generally see a 52 per cent decrease in fertility rate between their early 30s and their mid-to-late 30s.
“Male infertility, although often treatable, is a very taboo subject,” says Lily Elsner, co-founder and CEO of Jack Fertility.
“Because men don’t have the same relationship with their physicians as women do, they often don’t know they could do something about it.”
Culturally, it can also be hard for men to talk about having trouble conceiving as this can be seen as a lack of masculinity.
Research shows that the majority of men (73 per cent) are unlikely to talk about their infertility with others. In fact, 39 per cent are not likely to talk about their infertility at all.
Elsner, however, thinks we can change that. As the woman behind Jack Fertility’s at-home sperm test kit, she thinks talking openly about male infertility could go a long way towards addressing the gender imbalance in fertility testing.
“The whole point of femtech is to ensure women’s health is prioritised. By opening up the conversation around reproductive health and making it easy to assess male fertility, we can take some of the pressure off of women.
“Some men may not want to talk about their infertility still, but it’s an essential component of creating an equal world for all genders. I am tired of watching women shoulder the majority of infertility’s physical and emotional burden, and seeing men and non traditional families completely neglected in the medical and societal discourse surrounding fertility.”
A test like Jack, Elsner says, could give people that empowerment of having access to their health data and provide them with the tools to be able to make the right decision for them.
“A lot of men think of fertility as static, when really the male body is constantly creating sperm. With Jack, what we are trying to say is, ‘Actually, your fertility massively depends on your current health and chronic illnesses’.
“Our aim is to make it easy and convenient for all men to get reliable results about the status of their fertility, even if they are not considering starting a family. That’s part of why we named the company Jack – it’s cheeky and relatable.”
There are many fertility test on the market, but Elsner doesn’t see that as a bad thing.
“The rise of companies providing at-home sperm testing suggests a growing interest in male reproductive health, but it also signals a shift in attitudes, with fertility being recognised as an issue that affects both men and women equally,” she says.
“There are so many amazing companies out there working on fertility tests, but I think most of them are targeted a little bit further down the funnel. For us, it’s about getting men to take that first important step of getting tested. We just want them to have a chat with Jack.”
Jack Fertility is expected to launch later this year. To find out more, visit jackfertility.co.uk.
Partnership to pilot ‘cutting-edge’ embryo selection tool
The partnership is hoped to streamline laboratory operations with the potential future benefit of optimising the embryo selection process
The US fertility technology company Alife Health has teamed up with a network of laboratories to pilot an AI technology for embryo image capture and cataloguing.
The company’s partnership with Ovation Fertility aims to focus on streamlining laboratory operations with the potential future benefit of optimising the embryo selection process.
The technology could enable future “AI-powered” embryo selection.
Alife’s Embryo Assist software promises to help embryologists to create digital records of every embryo, with the added benefit of using the start-up’s clinical decision support algorithm to determine the best embryo for transfer.
Paxton Maeder-York, founder and CEO of Alife, said: “We are thrilled to join forces with Ovation, a leading laboratory network in the country, to showcase the transformative impact of Alife’s technology.
“Through this partnership, we aim to demonstrate how Alife’s advanced technology, powered by AI, can not only optimise clinic workflow, but also set a new standard in the precision and consistency of embryo selection.
“We look forward to contributing to Ovation’s commitment to excellence in fertility care.”
Matthew VerMilyea, vice president of scientific advancement at Ovation, added: “At Ovation, we strive to discover and leverage the most state-of-the-art technologies available to us in order to better improve patient outcomes.
“The Alife Embryo Assist software provides our laboratories with a structured digital approach to a rather manual and cumbersome process.
“I believe that by implementing Alife’s technology, we will see an improvement in lab efficiency and performance, which ultimately will help our network provide the best possible outcomes for every individual hoping to grow their family.”
The Embryo Assist software claims to allow embryologists to capture images of each embryo and streamline the embryo reporting process by eliminating the need to manually transcribe information between systems.
Alife expects the tool to “elevate” laboratory quality-control measures by providing an activity and audit trail for every embryo, viewable in real time.
Kitazato and IVF2.0 forge groundbreaking collaboration to revolutionise IVF with AI solutions
The collaboration aims to advance real-time sperm selection for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and embryo ranking
Kitazato, a trailblazing Japanese corporation specialising in assisted reproduction products, and IVF2.0, a leader in AI software for assisted reproductive technology (ART), have joined forces in a strategic collaboration.
The partnership aims to advance real-time sperm selection for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and embryo ranking based on ploidy prediction, ushering in a new era for the IVF market.
Under this agreement, Kitazato will leverage its multi-national distribution network to introduce standardised reproducible data-driven decision-making to IVF laboratories in many regions of the world through IVF2.0’s software.
IVF2.0’s suite of AI tools, including sperm selection (SiD) and embryo selection (ERiCA), assists embryologists in making critical choices to optimize fertility outcomes.
Mr Futoshi Inoue, president and CEO of Kitazato, expresses enthusiasm, stating: “Partnering with IVF2.0 demonstrates our commitment to innovation. We embrace technologies that aim to boost success rates, standardize procedures, and democratize fertility treatment for all.”
Professor Andrew Drakeley, co-founder and board chair of IVF2.0, emphasises the significance of the collaboration.
He said: “Our bond with Kitazato, a prestigious company with world-class products, underscores the growing need for implementing AI tools in IVF clinics globally. This marks a substantial step in the right direction.”
Kitazato, Kitazato – Quality Results for Life (kitazato-ivf.com), renowned for delivering quality products in assisted reproduction, aligns with IVF2.0’s mission to enhance IVF outcomes through AI.
IVF2.0’s innovative software platform employs AI and computer vision technology to elevate key steps in the IVF process.
Learn more at IVF 2.0 (ivf20.ai)
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