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The AI start-up on a mission to democratise IVF

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Daniella Gilboa, co-founder and CEO of AIVF
One in six people experience infertility globally, according to the World Health Organization. However, many couples are still unable to afford treatment. Daniella Gilboa, co-founder and CEO of the Israeli fertility start-up AIVF, tells us how AI could democratise IVF and increase access to affordable, high-quality fertility care for those struggling to conceive.

 

What is AIVF?

AIVF is an Israeli reproductive technology company transforming the fertility journey to be intelligent, accessible, and full of hope.

Based on scientific research and driven by real-world clinical use, AIVF developed a proprietary Fertility Operating System with automated embryo evaluation and deep learning algorithms to optimize clinical processes and improve patient outcomes.

Our solution, EMA, addresses two unmet needs in fertility. First, AI capabilities assist embryologists in their embryo evaluation, instantly identifying what the human eye cannot detect alone.

Second, with the integration of platforms, our single dashboard system streamlines all data in one place. From patient records to personalised embryo analytics, our platform connects the patient, lab, and clinic all in one place.

What is the story behind your company?

While writing my Ph.D. dissertation, it was suggested that my thesis could be a start-up. This field attracted me immediately. I believe being an embryologist is the most fantastic job in the world —using expertise to support individuals and families in bringing life into the world and homes.

While passionate about being an embryologist, I realised the more significant impact I could make is combining this with my previous experience using complex data to solve problems.

Knowing this field’s “ins and outs” made me realise there had been no significant progress and a lack of innovation for decades. I decided to jump right in, knowing I could make a difference for the better.

The move from embryologist to CEO of a start-up was a huge step, and I am constantly learning. My passion for helping bring children into the world remains the same. It’s my greater obligation to the world around me to create the next generation of IVF for clinicians, embryologists, and, most importantly, patients.

What makes your technology different?

The AIVF software algorithm was developed using hundreds of thousands of images and videos of embryos tagged with successful conception and leading to a normal pregnancy.

Currently, the programme can independently identify the embryos with the highest chances of developing into normal pregnancy.

The software AIVF developed identifies biological processes the human eye can’t detect. For example, the technology can spot mitochondrial ‘energy action’ directly linked to the embryo’s collapse or chances of implantation.

Unlike most deep learning algorithms, the AIVF platform identifies the patterns driving its actions and can explain its decisions.

It will mark, for example, that it has given a low score to a specific embryo due to disruptions or disorders found during its development, a different behavioural pattern at the cell division stage, or abnormal morphological appearance such as fractures.

How would your technology change the patient experience and fertility care more broadly?

On average, the IVF journey takes four years, seven cycles, and three miscarriages, costing an average of US$12,000 per IVF round.

By improving the embryologist’s capabilities in selecting the most viable embryo, there is potential for AI to help a patient conceive in one or two cycles. Our technology aims to minimise IVF’s financial and emotional costs by reducing the cost and time spent.

Additionally, our technology aims to add transparency to each patient’s IVF journey. While patients can access more information than ever, they make decisions based on a leaflet in the doctor’s office or a quick internet search.

Individuals need friendly and professional guidance to help them understand their journey’s complexities. Our integrated platform provides a window into the IVF lab and personalised analytics that help patients understand each step of the journey.

Where are you with the business now?

We are integrated with Southeast Asia, South America, North America, and Europe fertility clinics. So far, studies from our European clinics show that the platform has demonstrated a 70 per cent probability of success for embryos with a high EMA score.

The clinical studies also showed that EMA improved embryologists’ accuracy by 38 per cent and reduced the number of cycles to achieve pregnancy by 21.5 per cent on average. By improving embryologists’ accuracy, AIVF saves both time and money in the fertility journey.

What are your goals for this year?

IVF is one of the most important medical innovations in the last 50 years. Yet, the legacy technology used today in clinics can’t serve the 25 million women in the US who have limited or no access to fertility care.

At AIVF, we aim to use technology to make IVF efficient, accurate, and accessible to all who wish to grow their families.

Where do you see AIVF in five years?

Embryo evaluation using AI will democratise IVF by increasing access across underserved groups. More specifically, it will facilitate reduced costs by optimising our labour, laboratory performance, shorter time to a healthy, live birth of a singleton, and reduced failed cycles by not transferring embryos with a low chance of implantation (deselected embryos).

The promise of AI mitigated freedom for the computational embryologist is not just a new toolkit. It is the democratisation of high-quality IVF services. We call it IVF 3.0.

As we integrate AI technology into IVF practices and our work as embryologists and clinicians, the goals should remain the same: minimise costs and patient drop-out due to stress and financial fatigue while ensuring the highest quality patient care.

 

Daniella Gilboa is the co-founder and CEO of the AI technology start-up AIVF. As an IVF researcher, she is dedicated to advancing the science of using machine learning to optimise IVF processes. Gilboa is committed to driving the next generation of IVF technology and increase pregnancy success rates.

Q&A

#FromBerlinWithSolidarity: period tracking app Clue on reproductive rights and data privacy

Femtech World sat down with Clue chief product officer, Rhiannon White, to find out more about the company’s latest campaign

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To mark the one-year anniversary of the overturning of Roe v Wade, the German period tracking app Clue has launched a powerful campaign.

From Berlin With Solidarity, a passion project by American Clue users and advertising creatives Amy Char, Heather Patterson, and Ashley Milhollin, aimed to bring attention to the very real fear of reproductive surveillance faced by women in US states where the loss of reproductive rights means people are afraid their health data could be used to prosecute them for seeking abortion.

The campaign, which featured bold billboards in the US and humorous posters in Berlin, was, in co-CEO Audrey Tsang’s words, directed at sparking a conversation about the importance of privacy rights for equal healthcare.

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The founder on a mission to help women find the perfect-fitting bra

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Valentina Biglia, founder and CEO at FindYourBra

When Valentina Biglia launched FindYourBra she had one mission in mind: to change the way women shop for bras. Driven by her grandmother’s battle with breast cancer, she set about creating a unique platform that would not only redefine women’s shopping experience but assist them with finding the perfect-fitting bra. She tells us all about it below.

 

Can you tell us a bit more about your background?

I studied product design at the Politecnico of Turin, Italy. The idea of creating things from scratch has always fascinated me. Beauty and harmony are two characteristics that I seek and pursue.

I did a master’s degree in advanced interior design for commercial spaces at the IED in Barcelona. Products, fashion and the user experience in shopping are something I have always been passionate about, just as I am interested in philosophy, psychology and anthropology.

I studied gestalt, a branch of psychology, to better understand the behavioural patterns of human beings.

During my professional experience I had a parenthesis where I trained and worked as a bra fitter in a specialised lingerie shop in Barcelona. This experience changed my life and led me to founding FindYourBra.

What inspired you to create FindYourBra?

There are three main things that inspired me to create FindYourBra: firstly my personal experience with my body. I have never been satisfied with it, in particular with my breasts. I thought they were a “problem” until I found the right bra size.

On the other hand, I saw how finding the right bra size immediately changed the expression on the face of the people I was serving in the fitting rooms of the bra shop. At the same time I understood that the user experience was quite poor that any comment or look could create a trauma for them and that at that moment their self-esteem was at stake.

And, third reason, certainly not because of importance, is because of my grandmother. She has fought breast cancer twice, she has come out the winner again in November 2022.

She has been hiding her breasts every day for the last 30 years, fixing the breast asymmetry with socks stuffed with rice. She and other women like her inspire me every day to create a solution to help them get their lives back as soon as possible.

How would you describe your innovation in a few words?

The easiest, fastest and more intuitive way to buy bras online that suits you in total privacy and autonomy. A selection based on you, your measurements – taken with our patented measurement system – needs and preferences that changes as you changes.

No barriers, No measurements, No conversions, No size charts: just buy what fits to feel supported, comfortable and beautiful.

(more…)

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PwC’s Sarah Churchman on driving female leadership and diversity

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Sarah Churchman OBE, chief inclusion and wellbeing officer at PwC

Femtech World discusses the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace with PwC chief inclusion and wellbeing officer Sarah Churchman.

 

FTW: In today’s fast-paced corporate world, the importance of diversity and inclusion has become increasingly apparent. What do they mean to you?

SC: I&D are pretty well understood concepts today whereas when I started out as an HR professional looking specifically at some of the challenges related to the under-representation of women in senior roles they really weren’t understood at all, indeed not regarded as particularly important.

There are many analogies that describe the concepts well, ranging from “Diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance” or “Diversity is about counting the numbers (headcount) whereas inclusion is about making those numbers count”.  Both are true! But in simple terms, diversity is a fact of today; our UK and global workforce is increasingly diverse.

Including that diversity however remains a choice and more than just a conscious one. I often come across people who have educated themselves or been educated about the value – true commercial value – of diversity in every sense and in every way essential to business survival in this rapidly changing world and yet they behave in a way that demonstrates the lack of any emotional engagement with the agenda (the so called say/do gap – they say one thing, based on having their awareness raised and then proceed to behave – often lead – in a way that totally negates this learning).

In today’s fast-paced and rapidly changing corporate world powered by tech and digital transformation, we need human, inclusive leaders to create sustainable, responsible business.

FTW: Why is it important to address the unique needs of diverse employees?

SC: Diverse employees is another term for today’s increasingly diverse talent; no single gender or ethnic group has a monopoly on talent and skills and so we have to create workplaces today that support the different needs of different kinds of people.

I liken the requirement of employers to that of the legal obligation of making reasonable adjustments to enable disabled or neurodiverse talent to thrive.

We should be doing this for everyone because everyone is different and if we are bringing talented people into our organisations because they have the skills and potential that we need then it makes sound commercial sense to do all that we can to support them to thrive and maximise their potential.

Bottom line, this is about treating people as individuals and not making assumptions about their needs/abilities based on certain stereotypes.

FTW: Women’s health in the workplace can often be overlooked. Why do you think this happens?

SC: Simple: many workplaces of the 20th century were created by men for men, particularly in the City for example (financial and professional services) and elements of those male dominated cultures do still remain albeit often in subtle cultural cues.

In the 1950s women had to leave work when they married, in the 60s when they started a family, they only started to be allowed to wear trousers in the late 80s/90s!

All these features have meant that, historically, no one discussed the menopause at work as few women of perimenopausal or menopausal age were working.

The fact that we are talking about these things today is a sign of our success in retaining women in the world of work.  Many employers like PwC are trying to tackle some of the taboo health topics like mental ill health (which can also be triggered by hormonal changes like menopause) and some of the gynaecological health conditions such as endometriosis, infertility, miscarriage etc.

It makes commercial sense to care in today’s increasingly gender balanced world of work.

FTW: What steps could organisations like PwC take to support women in the workplace?

SC: At PwC, a day one provision is access to private medical cover which, given the challenges facing our NHS today, is an invaluable offering with shorter referral and waiting times.

PM cover is widening too based on wellbeing trends so extending this to menopause has been very positively received at PwC.  Instant access to information and advice is also hugely welcome.

We partner with the online platform Peppy, for example, giving our people access to specialists (group or one-to-one) for matters such as fertility, having a baby and menopause.

But also reviewing our own policies is important, based on what our women are experiencing. We recently introduced paid fertility leave for example and, through our support of Wellbeing of Women, access to excellent webinars on a range of women’s gynaecological topics.

FTW: Do you think technology could play a role in strengthening wellbeing support in the workplace?

SC: Absolutely, with platforms and apps. Headspace for example is offered to our people and the take up rate is c50 per cent, something which has even surprised Headspace!

Our private medical provider AXA also offers app support allowing our people to track their physical and mental health over time. These sorts of nudges are essential in today’s working world.

FTW: What advice would you give to senior executives seeking to better support women in the workplace?

SC: This is an investment worth making; simply assuming that what works for men will suit women is not smart at all and only through understanding the support that is required, engaging with women to get their views, can leaders be sure they are creating the conditions for all their talent to thrive (and of course their business).

FTW: What would an ideal workplace that supports women’s needs look like to you?

SC: It would likely be fairly balanced, particularly at the most senior levels of the organisation, with a variety senior role models demonstrating their is no one way or route to the top where flexibility is welcomed, trust (that you get the job done, whatever your working pattern) pervasive and wellbeing evidenced by people feeling safe, happy and satisfied in their work. A high performing, gender-balanced business!

Sarah Churchman OBE is a senior HR professional with over 20 years’ experience in equality, diversity and inclusion and is one of the country’s leading practitioners in this field. She was awarded an OBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List for services to women in business, equality and diversity.

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