In the world of healthcare, there are two things that certainly stand out – 1) women’s health care is dreadfully underfunded, and, 2) we want healthcare to be more personalized and digitalised. Addressing both of these truths, Inne.io is leveraging technology to empower women to understand their reproductive health.
The Berlin-based startup has just raised an additional €9.3 million in funding led by DSM Venturing. Borski Fund and Calm Storm Ventures also participated in the round, along with high-profile angels Taavet Hinrikus (Wise), Dr Fiona Pathiraja, Rolf Schromgens (Trivago).
Founded in 2017 by Eirini Rapti, who previously spent years working in healthcare, Inne was created to help women harness the power of technology to understand more about the hormonal levels of their bodies. It’s no secret that women’s health has been underfunded and under-researched. As a result of years of neglect, too many women are suffering needlessly and don’t have enough awareness or control over their own health. Inne wants to give women the flexibility and freedom to assess and understand their health in a revolutionary shake-up of the industry.
Eirini Rapti, founder and CEO at Inne, said: “Women’s health is consistently one of the most under-funded areas of medical research, with women only officially required to be included in clinical research in the US for the first time in 1993. This means women have less information about what is happening to their bodies and that makes it harder for them to improve their health and lifestyle. This information gap has been a driving force for me in creating inne and I’m thrilled that we are now able to help women learn about their bodies and be proactive in managing their own health and fertility. Inne can be the trusted partner for millions of women around the world, democratising the access to insight and information.”
Using Inne’s biosensor mini lab, women can discover their daily progesterone levels – a key indicator of reproductive health and an ovulation indicator – by performing a daily saliva test. By using saliva – rather than temperature – the mini lab has been proven to be as accurate as a lab progesterone test, to produce a more precise picture of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It’s also far less invasive than other tests and allows women to take control of their health without unnecessary discomfort or distress.
Since launching the mini lab and receiving medical device regulation in 2019, Inne has helped thousands of women across Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the UK to track their progesterone levels with the app processing over 100,000 hormonal data points.
Each user benefits from years of dedicated investment into data science and health research to get personalised insights that would be impossible to access on a daily basis any other way. Inne customers have used the product to help them get pregnant, others to avoid pregnancy, whilst some customers use it to track and manage erratic menstrual cycles. Inne has now begun the process of achieving certification as an official contraceptive product, following the results of an ongoing clinical study.
With the aim to offer services to women at all stages of life – reflecting an intersectional gap in women’s health, whereby older women are even further neglected in healthcare – Inne is now expanding its tracking capabilities to perimenopause. This is being achieved through an exclusive US partnership with Phenology, the new women’s health brand from the team at Hologram Sciences.
As part of the offering, the mini lab will be leveraged to help women track hormonal changes during perimenopause – the early stages of menopause when hormone levels start falling. This pioneering development is the first time it’s been possible to track hormone changes during perimenopause using a personalised at-home testing device. Women and doctors can find the onset of perimenopause difficult to identify as menstrual cycles can be erratic at this stage. Women will be able to use the data tracked by the mini lab to understand more about ovulation and how their progesterone levels may cause or worsen certain symptoms, giving them the information they need to make lifestyle changes to minimise side effects.
As well as extending its tracking to perimenopause, Inne will also be adding the ability to analyse stress through a dedicated cortisol tracking strip. This comes as women of all ages are reporting higher stress levels, following a two-year period of remote work, default caregiver status, and worries about the Covid-19 pandemic (to name just a few). Sustained cortisol levels affect the body by lowering oestrogen levels which can lead to weight gain, night sweats, sleep problems and mood swings. By tracking cortisol levels, women will be able to use these insights to make lifestyle adjustments to improve their long-term health. This can be particularly useful if they are trying to get pregnant or manage perimenopause symptoms.
Jess Graham, GM Phenology, said: “Inne’s unique hormone tracking technology supports women by helping them anticipate, manage and navigate menopause. Phenology shares Inne’s ambitions to improve women’s experience of the menopause by allowing them to learn more about their individual journey through the menopause transition and helping them to better predict when they might be at risk of some of their most challenging symptoms. Together we can provide better care for US women during their menopause by being the first solution in the US to measure salivary hormone levels using a reliable at-home method.”
Simone Brummelhuis, Partner at Borski Fund, said: “We are delighted to invest in inne and its exceptional team led by Eirini Rapti. The product is best in class for in-home testing of hormone levels. In a short period of time, inne has been shown to lead the trend of quantified self-solutions for women. We are enthusiastic because of the multiple use cases, from fertility to contraception and perimenopause. At Borski Fund, we are dedicated to investing in the femtech space and in AI solutions because this represents a huge opportunity for the benefit of all women.”