The future is female… the future is femtech
As women continue to gain entry into boardrooms and take the spotlight on the public stage, we’re taking a look at the science and innovations designed to support women’s health this week. We investigate the size of femtech market and learn about some of the newest innovations in the field.

We’ll explore the new wave of tech startups that address women’s health care needs, particularly around period management, reproductive health and empowerment, family planning and pregnancy care, emerging to address unmet needs and previously taboo topics. We see this as just the beginning. As women increasingly become investors, tech founders and health care leaders, we look forward to more innovations made for and by women.

We’ll also read about new research that promises to grow skin that generates its own veins, consider an updated theory of the Googleverse, and read about how and when machine learning should be part of medical innovation.

We hope you’ve been enjoying this newsletter and would love any feedback (erica@nycmedialab.org). Thank you again for reading!

Best,
Erica Matsumoto
NYC Media Lab

We’re seeing rapid innovation in the women’s health tech space as investors become savvier about the gaps and opportunities in women’s health. As women continue to take on leadership roles across industries and sectors including finance, VC, and health care, they and their partners are getting more of a say in making investments that meet specific women’s needs.

Simultaneously, as women become more empowered to demand what they need to remain in the workforce after having children, technologies that support that transition are being funded at a rapid clip.

Consequently, femtech companies are projected to raise north of $1 billion in funding in 2019, far surpassing the 2018 record of $650 million.

Source: HITLAB

In April 2019 alone:

  • Elvie, a health tech hardware startup creating products like a discreet wearable breast pump and a pelvic floor trainer, raised $42 million in Series B funding led by IPGL

Let’s continue to explore the types of choices investors have to invest in femtech. Many companies have sprung up to address all aspects of women’s health:

Source: CB Insights

In this week’s issue, we’ll highlight some of the most interesting innovations around sexual health, fertility, contraception, pregnancy and post-pregnancy.

PERIOD AND FERTILITY TRACKING

Cycle Tracking on iPhone or Apple Watch was introduced in the latest iOS update. This feature allows users to use their iPhones or Apple Watches to track their cycles, symptoms, basal body temperature, and more. Its Statistics feature also gives users information about the last period, typical period length, typical cycle length, and estimated next period.

Aavia is a smart birth control pill case that syncs to an iOS app to help improve pill-taking habits.

Cora, a player in the crowded direct-to-consumer pad and tampon space, also provides period management programs that help women track their periods more effectively.

Flo Health’s period-tracking app uses AI to examine shifts in women’s mood and physical changes to prioritize personalized content and services. Its app is designed to predict menstrual cycles, ovulation, and fertile days.

Source: dotHealth

NextGen Jane’s smart tampon collects data to help improve decision-making about its users reproductive health. The data it collects can be used to diagnose endometriosis, identify fertility issues and more.

Carrot Fertility partners with companies to provide fertility coverage (including fertility testing, egg and embryo freezing, and IVF) to their employees. It offers customized plans that prioritize inclusivity, price transparency, and healthy outcomes.

Source: Carrot Fertility

Natural Cycles’ fertility tracking app recently became the first-ever FDA-approved digital contraceptive. Its app, which pairs with a basal thermometer, helps women better plan for or prevent pregnancy through temperature logging.

Kindbody brings fertility services directly to women in the communities they live and work in.

SEXUAL HEALTH SUPPORT AND MANAGEMENT

Fig offers women and all individuals a new way to take STI tests from the comfort of their homes. Its tests cover the STIs / STDs that physicians and the CDC recommend we get tested for regularly.

Loral brings a new contraceptive method to the market with its single use, beautifully designed latex undergarments. Founded by a Columbia Law graduate, Loral encourages empowerment through intimacy.

Sustain Natural, recently acquired by Grove Collaborative, offers organic, vegan, fair trade, and sustainably made tampons, condoms and lubricants.

We’re also excited to spotlight Ovee, a graduate of NYC Media Lab’s Combine program — a sexual & reproductive health platform empowering vagina-havers with the supportive community they need to decide what is right for them, on their terms.

AT-HOME PREGNANCY DETECTION AND PREGNANCY MANAGEMENT

The Bloomlife sensor patch connects to a mobile app to track contractions. The sensor automatically detects, times, and tracks contractions to help women easily communicate with their care team.

Babyscripts is the only digital health tool for pregnant mothers being used in U.S. clinics. When an ob-gyn enrolls an expecting mother into the program, they receive a mobile application with an online scheduling platform, a tasklist to guide them through behaviors to support a healthy pregnancy (including healthy nutrition, exercise, and other behaviors) and other tips for new mothers. They also receive a “Mommy Kit” in the mail with a connected device to measure weight and blood pressure. This device sends information to the user’s profile, generating real-time data that produces actionable insights.

POST-NATAL CARE AND CONVENIENCE

The Willow smart breast pump is integrated with a mobile app that records metrics like milk volume to help new mothers understand their milk production. Check out Babylist Editor-in-Chief Bekah’s positive review:

Elvie produces two products for pre- and post-partum women:

  • A smart Kegel trainer and app to help build pelvic floor strength (which helps prepare the body for and recover from pregnancy, childbirth, aging, and impact sports)

Watch Elvie’s informational video about the Elvie trainer to understand how it works:

As this is still an emerging area of investment for many VC firms and other investors, we fully expect to see even more female-oriented technologies emerge in the next few years. Thanks to more available capital and awareness, it’s highly likely that the tech revolution is coming to change many aspects of women’s health management in the near future.

WHAT WE’RE READING

Scientists 3-D Print Skills That Develops Working Blood Vessels

Creating a durable, natural-looking skin substitute to cover burns and other wounds has been a holy grail for bioengineers for decades. A new technique for 3-D printing skin that has working blood vessels may have brought us much closer. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI_ and Yale University have developed a liquid “bio ink” made from living human skin cells, which is then used to print artificial skin that grows its own blood vessel system.

The Google Squeeze

Ben Thompson wrote an article about Peak Google in 2014. At that time, Google had $16.5 billion in revenue and $2.8 billion in profit in 3Q 2014. As we well know, Google’s revenues have only grown since then (last quarter, it had $36 billion in revenue and $6.7 billion in profit — increases of 118% and 139% respectively). With these figures in mind, Thompson has updated his theory of Google. 14 min read Read More

3 Myths About Machine Learning in Health Care

Machine learning can meaningfully improve patient care and lower health care costs. However, Avant-garde Health CEO Derek Hass warns, we need to be thoughtful about the types of problems ML is equipped to solve, who needs to be involved in developing ML models, and interpreting ML outputs.

This Week in Business History

November 18, 1883: Standard time goes into effect throughout the U.S.

This new timekeeping system was invented by the railroad industry. It went into effect throughout the U.S. at noon, when the daily telegraph signals sent from the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. first conformed to the new system of dividing the continent into four time zones.

The American Railway Association was the primary sponsor of the controversial new system; it believed it was the best way to deal with the scheduling chaos associated with long-distance trains going through local communities that each kept their own time, independent of other localities.

A year later, in 1884, delegates from 27 nations adopted the new, modern system of worldwide time zones.

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