Women make up 50% of the population, yet the world around them is often designed for men. Whether it’s medical technology, transportation or consumer gadgets, women are too frequently an afterthought. But with femtech – or female technology – the focus is 100% on creating tech-enabled products and services designed specifically for women.
Femtech startups in the UK and across the world are developing innovative ways to improve women’s health in areas such as the menopause, biometric tracking, IVF, breastfeeding and mental wellbeing.
Investors are increasingly backing femtech startups, too. According to Dealroom data, UK based femtech startups raised $125m (£101m) in 2019, rising to $121m (£97.9m) in 2021 – albeit with a sharp drop to $29.3m (£23.7m) in 2020.
While the US accounts for the lion’s share of femtech startups, the UK comes second in a market predicted to be worth in excess of $75.1bn (£60.7bn) by 2025.
With all that in mind, here are five UK femtech startups to keep an eye on.
Founders: Andrea Berchowitz and Dr Rebecca Love
Year founded: 2020
Total funding: $14m (£11.2m)
London-based Vira Health focuses on women’s healthcare and improving the gathering and use of female data in healthcare.
Its first product is a menopause subscription app called Stella, which guides women through menopause with tailored treatments based on the user’s symptoms.
Last month Vira Health raised £9m in a funding round to add new features to its menopause app, including telehealth and prescriptions.
Founders: Sarah Bolt and Chris Baines
Year founded: 2014
Total funding: $2.3m (£1.8m)
Located in Chepstow, Wales, Forth is a biometric tracking platform that enables people to live healthier. It tracks over 50 internal biomarkers, this data is then transformed into graphics and shown to the user through an online dashboard
In November last year Forth had an investment of £1.6m, to launch its Female Hormone Mapping product, giving women more insight into their hormone fluctuations.
Founder: Nader AlSalim
Year founded: 2019
Total funding: $23m (£18.5m)
Insurance company Gaia offers financing on IVF treatments. The startup uses technology to guess the probability of success with IVF.
If the IVF treatment does not work, then the person only has to pay a percentage of the total costs. When the treatment works it can be paid for in monthly instalments. Gaia also provides counsellor sessions, medical embryologist access and member support.
Based in London, Gaia recently closed $20m in a Series A round led by Atomico and will use the capital to expand its operations.
Founder: Tania Boler
Year founded: 2013
Total funding: $144m (£116m)
Elvie is a London-headquartered firm that manufacturers technology hardware for women. The first product by the company was the Elvie Trainer, an app-connected Kegal trainer. Followed by the Elvie Pump a quiet, wireless electric pump.
Last September it closed £70m in its Series C funding round to continue diversifying its product range.
Founder: Kim Palmer
Year founded: 2017
Total funding: $1.3m (£1m)
Clementine is a mental health app for women that uses hypnotherapy to lower stress levels and build confidence. In the subscription-based app there are sleep sessions, confidence courses, anti-anxiety courses and mantras.
The app was created after founder Kim Palmer suffered with panic attacks during pregnancy.
Earlier in the year, Clementine partnered with singer and songwriter Becky Hill to encourage young people on a journey to self-care.
Headquartered in London, Clementine raised $1.3m (£1m) in its seed funding round in October 2020.