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How to access femtech start-up funds in the UK



According to UENI’s 2020 report on gender and small business, 32.37 per cent of UK businesses are currently owned by women, up from 17 per cent in 2016.

While it demonstrates the gender gap in the British business world is closing (albeit slowly), what does it mean for femtech companies?

Access to funding

The 2019 Rose Review found that female-led businesses receive less funding than those headed by men at ‘every stage of their journey’. Not only does this inhibit scale up, it could put a stop to starting up in the first place.

According to the report, access to funding is the number one barrier listed, with ‘too big a financial risk’ being the second, showing that desire, fear and other personal responsibilities – while still important – are secondary to financial reasoning.

While funding is a barrier, this begins with lack of information and advice, even to the point of explanation around less obvious funding sources such as angel investment. More support from the very beginning would ensure they have a full understanding of the different options available, and the best one/s to suit them as entrepreneurs, as well as their enterprises’.

Although these figures are based on the business landscape in general, not specifically related to femtech itself, as women are most likely to set up femtech businesses, it gives a helpful understanding.

And it seems investors are catching on too.

According to Global Market Insights, the femtech market, which was valued at more than US$22.5 billion in 2020, is expected to grow by 16.2 per cent from 2021 to 2027, with other figures suggesting it will exceed US$60 billion within the next decade.

Funding sources

As Kevin Costner said in Field of Dreams: “Build it and they will come” – but just how true is that?

For many, the building (business creation, product development and testing) is not possible without funding, so clearly Kevin hadn’t tried launching a femtech business.

As a new business owner, the options, jargon, avenues and types of funding can be overwhelming, so it’s useful to seek advice from peers who already run established businesses to find out how they did it.

Do they have contacts who could help? Who did they secure funding through? Do they know of any business networks or support providers that can help point you in the right direction?

Online resources such as Swoop can help clear the jargon, and also list the variety of funds available for businesses at different stages.

If you’re looking for a more personal approach, get in touch with funding companies such as Nudl. They have specialist teams on hand to listen to you and your needs, identify opportunities and take you through the entire application process to make sure you’re not only applying for the right funding, but saying the right things in the process – not matter what your niche.

Want a more online experience? Try Nerdwallet for a process similar to applying for a credit card. It’s not as personal, but gives you a quick decision and often fast funds.

Angel Investment

While saying you’re looking for your angel may sound strange in a business context, they can often be the saviours you didn’t know existed.

Often high-net-worth individuals, angel investors fund start-ups at the early stages, often with their own money, and usually for businesses they have a personal or passionate connection to.

One such investor is Bérénice Magistretti with Visionaries Club. A tech journalist turned investor, she is fascinated with the femtech space and even writes a regular column for Forbes about ‘Tech That Matters’ – largely focusing on topics that include femtech and accessibility.

She has made dozens of investments from $100k to US$5 million and knows that the world isn’t going to change overnight, but great initiatives have been created to get things moving.

Bérénice is one of many angel investors ready to support businesses they believe in, and who often bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge that can help with various parts of the business, from marketing and branding to HR and scaling up.

So, while some may wish to remain silent and simply fund a business, always consider what other support you could gain from those involved in your business.


An underrated yet growing funding source is crowdfunding – the use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals.

And while you could be tempted to think that relying on so many people is a risk, it is possible.

Sextech pioneer MysteryVibe reached 127 per cent of their fundraising goal from over 530 investors for their first ever campaign which will go towards new product development, research, team expansion and inventory building.

While not a start-up, this success story does demonstrate that there are people out there willing and able to support businesses that they believe in. And crowdfunding gives them the opportunity to do so – and be involved – without the need to spend significant sums that they may not have access to.

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Women with endometriosis face fourfold higher risk of ovarian cancer, study finds



The risk of developing ovarian cancer could jump about fourfold among women with endometriosis compared with women without the condition, a new study has found.

A landmark study from researchers at the University of Utah and Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine found that women with severe endometriosis are 10 times more likely to get ovarian cancer compared to women who do not have the disease.

Prior studies have shown a causal connection between endometriosis and ovarian cancer but in using the Utah Population Database, a repository of linked health records housed at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, investigators were able to analyse the incidence rates of different types of endometriosis and subtypes of ovarian cancer for the first time.

Their research, which included a cohort of over 78,000 women with endometriosis, found that women with severe forms — either deep infiltrating endometriosis, ovarian endometriomas or both — have an overall ovarian cancer risk that’s “markedly increased,” at about 9.7 times higher, relative to women without endometriosis.

Women with deep infiltrating endometriosis, ovarian endometriomas or both, on the other hand, appear to face nearly 19 times the risk of type I ovarian cancer, which tends to grow more slowly, compared with women without endometriosis, according to the study.

In their calculations, researchers also found that women with any kind of endometriosis have a 4.2-fold risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to those who do not.

“These are really important findings,” said Jennifer Doherty, investigator and professor of the population health sciences department at the University of Utah.

“This impacts clinical care for individuals with severe endometriosis, since they would benefit from counselling about ovarian cancer risk and prevention.

“This research will also lead to further studies to understand the mechanisms through which specific types of endometriosis cause different types of ovarian cancer.”

However, women with endometriosis should not panic about the findings, researchers noted, because ovarian cancer itself is still rare. About 1.1 per cent of US women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer at some point in their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“Because of the rarity of ovarian cancer, the association with endometriosis only increased the number of cancer cases by 10 to 20 per 10,000 women,” Karen Schliep, senior author of the study and an associate professor in the Division of Public Health at the University of Utah School of Medicine, told CNN.

“We would not recommend, at this point, any change in clinical care or policy. The best way of preventing ovarian cancer is still the recommendation of exercise, not smoking and limiting alcohol.”

Women with endometriosis could pursue surgeries, such as hysterectomies or removal of the ovaries, investigators said. However, since these are invasive procedures, more research is needed to know if these are the right measures, they concluded.

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Study exposes gaps in menstrual health education in English schools



A new study has revealed significant inadequacies in menstrual health education provision in English schools.

New research, led by the University of Bristol and Anglia Ruskin University, has highlighted a lack of practical information being offered, pupils being taught too late, and attitudes that perpetuate stigma across English schools.

Ten per cent of young women surveyed in the study, which sought to understand what and how menstrual health education information was delivered in English schools, did not receive or remember receiving any menstrual health education. Of those pupils who did, up to one in five did not receive education until after they had started their period.

Researchers surveyed 140 young women aged 18-24, who had attended either a private or state-funded primary and secondary school, on their menstrual health education. Of these, 99.3 per cent had experienced menstruation.

Participants were asked to take part in online surveys and in-depth interviews to share their experiences including what and how information was provided at school and reflect on their thoughts and feelings about their education.

From the survey results, researchers found lessons focussed on biological content with a lack of practical information needed to help students manage menstruation and menstrual health, with nearly seven in ten participants having reportedly received no practical information. None of the participants were taught about menstrual health conditions and only 3.2 per cent learnt about abnormal symptoms.

Serious long-term impacts were reported, as several participants put off seeking medical attention for debilitating symptoms because they thought their pain was normal, only to be later diagnosed with conditions such as endometriosis.

Overall, participants left school lacking basic knowledge and feeling ill-equipped with 62.4 per cent rating their education as “poor” or “very poor” in preparing them for managing menstruation.

In extreme cases, some were so unprepared that when they started their periods, they thought they were ill or even dying.

While schools were seen as an important source of information, many participants admitted that they had to rely on other sources, particularly the internet and social media.

Poppy Taylor, PhD researcher in population health sciences at the University of Bristol, and corresponding author, said: “Given the evidence that girls are starting their periods at ever-younger ages, there are concerns this will be too late for an increasing number of people. Denying young people with information about their bodies risks significant long-term harm.

“Our research provides strong evidence that the education system has been failing young girls and people who menstruate. We were shocked and disappointed, but sadly not surprised, with our findings.”

Globally, menstrual health is a key issue for gender equality. When menstrual needs are unmet, it can create barriers to education and employment, pose long-term health risks and threaten human rights.

Evidence suggests that persistent stigma and lack of public understanding about menstruation is preventing such needs from being met in the UK.

“Our findings suggest that for many young people, the menstrual health education they received failed to prepare them physically, mentally, or socially for their first period,” Taylor explained.

“We recommend that menstrual health education is improved through the delivery of earlier, more inclusive lessons with more practical content to ensure all young people are equipped to manage their menstrual health in a supportive environment.

“To support the UK government’s target of eradicating period stigma and poverty by 2030, universally accessible and comprehensive menstrual health education must be prioritised.”

The authors acknowledged that the reported experiences in the study, particularly from older participants, may not reflect current practices.

Due to the small sample size, they said, further research is needed to explore the experiences of students who are currently in the schooling system and to understand whether and how practices have changed.

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Maternal mental health start-up bags US$10.9m in series A funding

Seven Starling aims to help women navigate critical periods in their lives with evidence-based mental health support



The US start-up Seven Starling has secured US$10.9m in series A funding to address unmet needs in women’s mental health.

More than 90 per cent of women do not seek help for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders due to high barriers including a shortage of therapists, limited in-network coverage and mental health stigma.

These conditions affect one in five women during the motherhood journey, yet only 20 per cent are screened for mental health issues, and 75 per cent of those who need treatment do not receive it.

Seven Starling aims to address these challenges by making its services accessible through its in-network coverage, integrated group therapy model, and partnerships with referring providers to make the process of getting started easier for patients.

The investment round, led by RH Capital, is hoped to expand access to essential mental health services for women going through critical periods, such as infertility, miscarriage and loss, pregnancy, postpartum and motherhood.

“We are thrilled to have successfully raised this round of funding, which will allow us to expand our reach and help more women who need support during critical life transitions,” said Tina Beilinson Keshani, co-founder and CEO of Seven Starling.

“This investment is a testament to the demand for a dedicated women’s mental health solution and our commitment to providing accessible, high-quality care. With the new funding, we will continue to successfully reduce the stigma around women’s mental health and ensure that every woman has access to the care she needs, when she needs it.”

The capital raised from this round, Keshani said, would be used to “fuel” national expansion, partnering with Medicaid plans, and developing innovative technology to further integrate with healthcare partners.

Alice Zheng, principal at RH Capital, said: “We are proud to partner with Seven Starling in this new chapter to expand access to maternal mental healthcare, an area of significant need.

“We are excited by the comprehensive and scalable offerings, including group therapy to expand access. As a recent mum of two myself, I have been shocked by the lack of perinatal mental health support available relative to need and am thankful to see Seven Starling filling that gap.”

Mar Hershenson, founder of Pear VC, added: “Seven Starling is addressing a huge problem not just around motherhood but the entire female lifespace from adolescence to menopause.

“Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression or an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, but lack a tailored solution designed to meet their unique needs. Pear has partnered with Seven Starling since day one and we are excited to double down on them.”

Kelly Ernst, March of Dimes SVP, chief impact officer, said mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, are among the most common complications for women during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

“However, many do not receive treatment they desperately need, which can lead to long lasting clinical, social, and economic consequences,” she explained.

“When these conditions are effectively treated and managed, everyone benefits. We’re proud to be investors in Seven Starling and look forward to seeing how their innovative and comprehensive approach improves the mental healthcare needs of women across the country.”

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