By Sofia Menyalkin ’25 Director of Membership
The FemTech Revolution: Here’s What You Need To Know.
Women represent 50% of the world’s population, but you wouldn’t think so considering that the current Healthcare R&D (Research & Development) targeting women’s health specifically contributes to a mere 4% of the industry. Inequality runs rampant through our systems as a society, as a world, and women are oftentimes the last to have a say, or even a seat, at the table. When women do bravely speak out, they are either silenced and ignored or simply not taken seriously, even shamed, for bringing up topics that are too “taboo” or culturally stigmatized to discuss. Considering the overwhelming male majority within VC funding pipelines — in the US, women only represent 8.6% of the venture capital industry — it’s safe to say that most VC firms are not even aware of these issues and needs, much less familiar and confident enough to fund research or invest in specialized companies within the space.
Women’s healthcare tends to be dramatically overlooked and underfunded in terms of research and investment. The emerging FemTech space, however, serves as an attempt to close systemically-overlooked gaps and white space in the market “not yet addressed by biopharma and device incumbents.” Although the way FemTech is classified varies by organization, this industry is primarily split into products, software, and services pertaining to companies focusing on women’s health, and women’s health only. This includes addressing needs such as the ability to access care in a “more convenient, customer-centric manner”; the empowerment of women to take “greater charge of their health and health-related data”; pushing the scientific frontier forward in terms of unmet medical needs, such as endometriosis and other oftentimes-overlooked diagnoses; and the awareness and confrontation of stigmatized and silenced topics including but not limited to: menstrual care and fertility tracking, pregnancy and nursing, menopausal care, sexual health, pelvic care, and general health and wellness. The success of these needs being met is also drastically reduced to how culturally-sensitive and tailored to specific subpopulations products and services within this already-specialized space are.
In 2022, the global FemTech market size was valued at $5.79 billion, projected to approximately triple from $6.69 billion in 2023 to $20.59 billion in 2030 with a CAGR of 17.4% from 2023 to 2030. In other words, FemTech looks to be an incredibly promising market, with key players such as Flo Health Inc. (U.K.), Natural Cycles USA Corp (USA), FemTec Health (USA), Glow, Inc. (USA), and Chiaro Technology Unlimited (U.K.) doing particularly well in their respective niches yet leaving considerable territory in the broader FemTech space untouched for smaller, newer players to emerge. As this industry grows, however, it must be noted that only 2% of all U.S. venture capital funding went to women-only founded startups in 2022, reflecting the significant barriers and difficulties women entrepreneurs often face when it comes to accessing the funding and resources necessary to build companies in the first place.
In terms of parallels, FemTech companies most commonly fall under broader categories such as Healthcare, B2C Consumer Products and Services, Information Technology, and Financial Services. With the rise of awareness and deconstruction of cultural biases surrounding women’s health happening primarily in more developed countries, more and more companies as well as opportunities for profitability are emerging within the space. This phenomenon is creating a close correlation between high FemTech company count and dispersion in North America and Europe.
North America currently holds the largest market share in all of FemTech, having brought in $3.02 billion in revenue in 2022 and projected to continue to significantly increase in the years ahead. Key factors driving the drastic North American FemTech market growth seen in the graph below include the “rising prevalence of women’s disorders, increasing adoption of digital health among [the] women[‘s] population, increasing research and development by market players, and rising numbers of approvals and launches.”
Technology as a whole is known for its data privacy risks. Most recently, FemTech has made headlines for potential data leaks and privacy concerns that may unfortunately be counterproductive to the industry’s original purpose: the health and well-being of women worldwide. For example, in 2020, “the California Attorney General’s Office announced a settlement against Glow, Inc., a tech company that operates a fertility-tracking mobile app, for ‘serious privacy and basic security failures that put women’s highly-sensitive personal and medical information at risk.’” This settlement did not represent the first occurrence of digital privacy concerns for women seeking healthcare, and such well-known digital privacy risks within the Healthcare sector have encouraged FemTech companies to place greater focus and priority on protecting their users from potential harm caused by data breaches or cyberattacks. With privacy and data security becoming “essential values” amongst companies and a growing number of consumers, there will likely be a “shift in government-imposed regulations and legislation like GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation]”, with some of these stricter privacy and data protection standards hopefully “coming from the FemTech industry itself”.
FemTech shows great promise in both profitability as well as expansion in the near future, helping to gradually leverage an extremely one-sided healthcare industry not currently in tune with women’s needs. With greater awareness and destigmatization of women’s health issues will come an increased realized necessity for healthcare catered specifically to women, generating a world of market potential, innovation, and growth in the coming years.
Sofia is a sophomore from Shrewsbury, MA pursuing a major in Analytical Economics and a minor in Business Administration. On campus, Sofia is a Peer Counselor at UNH Business Services, a Resident Assistant, and a Paul College Inclusive Leadership Fellow. Through her involvement in the Rines Angel Fund, Sofia is interested in gaining an all-encompassing look at early-stage companies and their intricacies as well as developing essential skills related to due diligence and decision-making processes. In her free time, Sofia enjoys reading, listening to music, and going on hikes.