European startups taking on the gender health gap

Historically, there has been a gender bias in medicine that have put many women at risk. At the same time, women’s health care needs tend to be excluded in medical research and clinical trials. Many conditions that are unique to females have been underfunded, underserved, and overlooked up until recent years with the rise of ‘femtech’.

“Femtech” was coined in 2016 by Ida Tin, co-founder and CEO of Clue, an app for tracking menstrual cycles and fertility. Femtech refers to products and services that uses technology to focus on women’s health and is also inclusive to non-binary individuals. In 2021, the global VC investment in FemTech crossed $1 billion for the first time. It is also encouraging to see that the majority of femtechs are founded for women by women; breaking the bias that historically existed in the health care market. 

The early days of femtech focused mostly on menstruation and cycle tracking. As the femtech sector matures, there are more startups emerging that tackle a wider range of chronic women’s health conditions like menopause, endometriosis, fertility and IVF, and hormonal health. We hope that there will be more awareness in our society and in future generations on how to recognise and diagnose women’s health conditions.

Here are 8 European startups innovating in developing women’s health that we think you should keep an eye on this year:

gaia logoGaia – Gaia uses predictive tech to create personalised fertility insurance products and payment plans that take the financial uncertainty out of difficult procedures, enabling more people to become parents. Three out of four people who seek fertility treatment never start because they believe the financial burden would be too large. Many couples require more than one treatment cycle to be successful but with little to no visibility into how many treatment cycles (and corresponding total cost) will be required at the outset. Founded in 2019, Gaia raised €17.68 million to redesign access to fertility care with plans to scale their operations and start to expand internationally.

Jennis – Founded in 2021 by Olympic and World Heptathlon Champion, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Jennis aims to become the go-to-app for CycleMapping for all women globally. Jennis is a game-changing femtech app uses science-backed expertise to help everyday women map their personal hormonal cycles to different styles of fitness, helping them achieve maximum physical and psychological benefits. Fitness recommendations are varied across the four phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle, with results including more efficient training and lean muscle gains, reduced PMS, more energy, and increased body literacy. To date, Jennis has raised €1.17 million.

vira health Vira Health – Vira Health is a digital health company focused on improving long-term health for women. They do this by addressing female-specific conditions and improving the collection and use of female data in healthcare. They are starting off by building Stella, a digital therapy solution for menopause. Stella combines evidence-based treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, pelvic floor exercises, and diet and lifestyle changes into a tailored treatment plan. Vira Health was founded in 2020, and recently raised their Series A of €10.9 million.

jude logoJude – Jude is a healthtech startup on a mission to break the taboo surrounding female health. Founded by Peony Li, she has raised the biggest pre-seed round by a solo female founder in the UK with Jude’s recent raise of €2.4 million. Peony is on a mission to break the stigma around bladder care and inspire people to have conversation about incontinence in the same way people talk about periods and menopause. Jude has a product range consisting of fully biodegradable, plant-based liners, pads, and clinically tested supplements co-created with its community of 300 women.

Hertility Health – Hertility Health is revolutionising the world of hormone and reproductive health. They offer fertility and hormone testing, menopause, miscarriage, postnatal care, polycyctic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis testing. Alongside their product offering, they are running clinical trials which aim to reduce the diagnosis time for some of the most common reproductive conditions. Founded by female scientists who felt passionate about the need for change, they built Hertility Health while on their maternity leave and it was born out of pure frustration for the lack of research into women’s health and the lack of support available to women who were curious or worried about their reproductive health. They officially launched in 2020 during the pandemic and have raised €4.8 million in seed funding.

AuraAura is on a mission to transform the IVF experience, making it more personable and supportive. Aura was founded in 2020 by Abi Hannah and Karen Hanson who both went through the traumatic experience of miscarriages and failed IVF cycles, Jo Living later joined as the third co-founder.  The B2C app was launched in October 2020, receiving 6000 downloads in just 6 months. Recognising that fertility treatment is more than just a clinical procedure, Abi, Jo and Karen have developed an innovative, evidence-based tech companion for every stage of the IVF journey which provides emotional support and psychosocial care.  Aura has just raised about €700k in pre-seed funding.

moonai Moonai – Moonai is on a mission to transform menstruation and period pain. In their app, they have resources and pain tracking AI powered insights to help relieve period pains and minimise its intensity. Their unique offering is that they offer personalised, science-based sounds created by neuroscientists, gynaecologists, and psychoacoustic experts that are tailored based on the user’s specific to pain intensity and emotions to help alleviate pains. Certain sounds, frequencies, and rhythms can impact the central nervous system and help reduce the perception of pain.

Hormona – Hormona is a data-driven startup targeting hormonal imbalances with innovative solutions. Founded in 2019 by Jasmine Tagesson (COO) and Karolina Löfqvist (CEO), after Karolina’s personal experience with hormonal health.  Hormona started as an online community, Hormona has since evolved into a platform empowering woman to take control of their health and their hormones. Over the next year, Hormona will be launching the world’s first at-home hormone monitoring system for real-time hormone tracking. With hormone tracking, women can identify if they are suffering from conditions like irregular cycles, PCOS, infertility, menopause.  EU-Startups recently caught up with Jasmine and Karolina to learn about Hormona and their journey.

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