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The heart of the matter: How CordiFio is creating change

FemTech World speaks to Petronela Sandulache of CorDiFio about why heart condition diagnoses are harder for women

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Heart health attacks CorDiFio

Heart health for women can be a difficult diagnosis to make due to symptoms mirroring other conditions. FemTech World meets Petronela Sandulache founder of CorDiFio

Petronela started her career in the consulting and automotive industry all over the world before a family tragedy made her assess her goals.

She said: “When something terrible happened in my family, it made me think about life and what it is all about. The most important person in our lives had a misdiagnosis and that was it. Someone who is relatively healthy just disappears overnight. That was when I started to investigate the disparities in medical diagnosis for women.”

Petronella added: “Women present different types of symptoms that get confused with indigestion or anxiety rather than being taken seriously and having a further investigation. Once I started investigating, I found out that the number one killer of women more than all cancers combined is heart disease yet 50 per cent following an attack get misdiagnosed.

This is huge pressure on the healthcare system because misdiagnosis means wrong treatments and doctors. The ones who are paying the price are women.”

Heart health attacks CorDiFio

Heart attacks and health

When it comes to heart attacks, women present different symptoms to men. Yet when it comes to diagnosis, the male symptoms are often used as a benchmark for how it presents.

Petronela explained: “In research conducted by the Canadian stroke and heart foundation, they discovered that 30 to 50 per cent of women diagnosed with depression are actually misdiagnosed and this can mask heart disease in women. They have only recently started to investigate the problem of heart disease, stroke or Alzheimer’s disease in women and why things present differently.”

Hormones are one reason why women have been excluded from studies and it’s why certain conditions present differently in women. Women also face challenges when it comes to taking part in clinical trials such as childcare or pregnancy.

“Obviously we have hormones that are not taken into consideration when you just study male models. So I thought we need to do something about this because femtech is just about tracking your period, making babies or menopause. Women are much more than their reproductive organs. Everything we know about common diseases, treatments and diagnosis has been done on men,” Petronela said.

“We need to do something about heart disease because if you don’t know that you have it, then you can be gone in five minutes. That’s why I called the company, CorDiFio, it means, in Italian, the heart of Fio which was the name of my mother. I’m dedicating this to her and all the women out there so they don’t need to go through the same type of thing,” she added.

The research also revealed that different ethnic backgrounds may place women at higher risks for cardiovascular diseases.

Petronela said: “It’s important to note within the female population, we have ethnic backgrounds with different risk profiles. We know that African, Hispanic or southeast Asian women have a higher probability of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to caucasian women.”

Heart health awareness

CorDioFio is dedicated to raising awareness so that women can detect heart problems early before it becomes a medical emergency. Its goal is to empower both women and their doctors to come up with early detection which will help to save lives.

“The great news is that 80 per cent of heart disease and strokes are preventable if caught in time. We are determined to keep women’s hearts beating longer.”

When it comes to CorDiFio’s technology, how does it work for patients?

Petronella explained: “If you download our app or go to the website to register then we take you on a journey by asking specific questions that take about 20 minutes to answer. We will generate a personalised health report for you to download and take to your appointment with your GP. You will learn your risk factors, where you need to keep an eye out and it’s something tangible to start that conversation with doctors by highlighting things you wouldn’t have thought of.”

She added: “We have tested this with various women from all over the world to see what their doctors say about the reports. They found that they don’t have a heart problem which is great so it’s peace of mind but some found they had other issues which present a diagnostic opportunity. We want to integrate this and are working with wearables.”

Read more about femtech and CorDiFio

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Tech4Eva launches its fourth edition and call for application

Tech4Eva is searching for entrepreneurs ready to address the unmet health needs of women worldwide

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Tech4Eva, a pioneering accelerator programme dedicated to the femtech sector, is opening its call for applications, inviting femtech start-ups to join its mission to improve women’s health.

The programme is searching for entrepreneurs ready to address the unmet health needs of women worldwide, promising to help entrepreneurs to take their start-ups to the next level.

What is Tech4Eva?

Tech4Eva, is a joint programme between EPFL Innovation Park and Groupe Mutuel for companies developing innovative technology solutions to improve women’s health globally.

What is Tech4Eva looking for? 
Why join?

Applying to the Tech4Eva accelerator programme is a pivotal step for any femtech start-up looking to elevate its impact and reach in the women’s health sector.

Here is an overview of the benefits the programme offers:

  • Strategic refinement: Sharpen your business model and go-to-market strategy with expert guidance, positioning your start-up for sustainable growth and success.
  • Enhanced visibility: Participate in roadshows to showcase your innovative solutions, broadening your exposure to key stakeholders in the Tech4Eva femtech ecosystem.
  • Direct connections: Gain invaluable access to a network of investors and potential customers.
  • Personalised coaching: Receive targeted technical and business coaching tailored to your start-up’s unique challenges.
  • Peer learning: Benefit from Peer2Peer sessions that foster exchange of insights and experiences with fellow founders.
  • Community engagement: Become an integral part of a global femtech community, connecting with like-minded innovators committed to transforming women’s health.
The time is now

This is more than a call for applications, it’s a call to action. The Tech4Eva accelerator programme offers more than growth – it offers a chance to be part of a movement set to redefine the future of women’s health.

If your start-up is ready to take the next step, your time is now. Apply here to join the Tech4Eva programme now.

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Investors launch female-focused angel network in the north of England

The Leeds-based group aims to build a diverse investment community for women entrepreneurs in the north of England

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Two UK-based businesswomen have launched an angel investment network to back women-led start-ups in the north of England.

Co-founded by Jordan Dargue and Helen Oldham, Lifted Ventures was launched based on research showing that female-led businesses generate on average double the revenue for each pound invested, despite receiving minimal funding.

Funding has been identified as a top barrier for women in tech and business, with the Alison Rose Review revealing that less than one per cent of all venture funding goes to all-female-founded start-ups.

Dargue and Oldham, who led the NorthInvest angel network and co-founded Fund Her North and Women Angels of the North, said they came together to this new venture to build on their work in closing the early-stage gender and ethnic funding gap in the UK.

The Leeds-based group aims to build a diverse investment community for women entrepreneurs in the north of England, planning to create networks for angels and supply its capital to women-led startups.

“Too often the conversation focuses on disparity, gender funding gaps, barriers and challenges. Lifted Ventures is focusing on opportunity,” said Oldham, co-founder of Lifted Ventures and board member of the UK Business Angels Association, told UKTN.

“One of our main aims is to educate and inform investors on the proven business benefits and greater economic returns which result from supporting female-founded businesses.”

Lifted’s angel networks, Oldham said, would include education programmes to support new and experienced investors who want to gain a better understanding of how to back female-led businesses.

“We understand that female-led businesses and women angels need tailored pathways to ensure that they’re successful,” explained Jordan, co-founder of Lifted Ventures.

“The education programmes we’re developing aim to provide investors and founders alike with the practical resources and knowledge they need to ensure success.”

She aded: “We believe that investment should be accessible to everyone, irrespective of their background, ethnicity, gender, neuro or physical diversity.”

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US maternity clinic raises a US$28m to expand nationally

Oula plans to expand its hybrid care approach and launch new services for those in their reproductive years

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The US maternity care clinic Oula has raised a US$28m in funding to introduce new services and expand nationally.

Oula aims to brings together the best of midwifery and obstetrics to deliver, what the start-up describes as, “whole-person” care.

Since its launch in 2021, the clinic, which can currently be found in three locations in New York City, has focused on providing a better care experience for women, combing modern medicine with a more personalised approach.

Now, with nearly US$50m in total funding, Oula plans to expand its hybrid care approach to more markets beyond New York City and launch new services for those in their reproductive years.

“The power of Oula’s collaborative approach to care is that patients feel seen and heard during a transformative moment in their lives, health systems are able to address the evolving expectations of their communities and we can move the needle on unacceptable outcomes and disparities in maternal care,” explained Adrianne Nickerson, co-founder and CEO and of Oula.

Elaine Purcell, co-founder and COO of Oula, said: “We’ve not only proven that this model works, but that it’s what patients from all backgrounds, birth preferences, and income levels are looking for.

“Whether you can afford concierge care or are on Medicaid, we are building a modern and compassionate pregnancy care model that delivers better outcomes than the system has proven to do. We deserve better and yes, you can have it all.”

Clara Sieg, partner and founding member at Revolution Ventures, which co-led the funding round alongside Maverick Ventures, said: “Pregnancy outcomes in the US have consistently deteriorated over the past two decades.

“Oula is solving this mounting crisis by reimagining the maternal experience with midwifery-first, team-based care supported by virtual wrap-around services and a tech-enabled platform.

“We are excited to partner with the team as Oula scales its care model and empowers women to receive personalised, trusted support throughout pregnancy.”

David Singer of Maverick Ventures, added: “We are thrilled to back a company that effectively aligns the needs of mothers, health systems and payers, and breaks the false binary between unmedicalised and hypermedicalised care.”

Instead of waiting for the standard eight-week ultrasound, Oula allows patients to book an appointment as soon as their positive pregnancy test, supporting patients in the postpartum period.

The clinic also plans to introduce pre-conception coaching visits and expanded miscarriage support options in the coming year.

Joanne Schneider, Oula’s chief experience officer, said: “Oula is distinct in the pregnancy landscape today not only in redesigning the standard pregnancy and birth experience, but also in filling the gaps where the medical system typically fails patients: early pregnancy care and postpartum. Even when there aren’t any medical needs, these are times when people need emotional support.

She added: “Miscarriages are extremely common, so I was shocked at how isolated I felt when I had my own miscarriage. It’s not considered a big deal medically, but it’s a very big deal when you are going through it.”

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