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01.03
2022

Why femtech start-ups are booming

Biopole’s entrepreneur share: Henri Kornmann, Director of Biologics Development at Ferring Pharmaceuticals

Femtech has gained traction in recent years and is set to become a huge industry. Henri Kornmann explains why femtech is crucial in today’s society and outlines the challenges that we’ll need to overcome for these technologies to become widespread.

 

Coined in 2016, the term ‘femtech’ – a contraction of ‘female’ and ‘technology’ – describes technologies that cater to women’s healthcare needs.

Until recently, many aspects of women’s health were largely neglected by the healthcare industry. Take, for instance, endometriosis, a painful condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries. It affects 10% of women and is responsible for 50% of fertility issues. Yet, due to limited screening options, it can take between seven and ten years to be diagnosed with the condition and even then, women have limited options for treatment. This is just one example. Each year, 8 million globally women suffer from a urinary tract infection, 1 in 8 couples have fertility issues and 10–20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Such statistics show that we need to address health issues specific to women more effectively.

It is no wonder, then, that the femtech industry has boomed in recent years and it will no doubt continue to thrive. Until now, the majority of femtech companies focused on menstruation and fertility solutions for women between the ages of 20 and 40. There are therefore many opportunities for growth, including technologies aimed at other age groups, such as teenagers or women over the age of 50 (to help, for instance, with osteoporosis or health issues related to the menopause). Our growing ability to leverage data will also result in apps and other technology to better diagnose and monitor women’s health worldwide.

Each year, 8 million women suffer from a urinary tract infection, 1 in 8 couples have fertility issues, and 10–20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.

The scope of femtech will expand geographically, too. Much of today’s activity is taking place in the UK and the US, while still emerging in continental Europe. There is huge potential to spread to other parts of the world, for instance Asia, the Middle East and Africa. For these technologies to become mainstream, we’ll need to overcome the cultural barriers and taboos surrounding women’s health. To do so, we must show how these technologies are not mere gadgets; they deliver real value to societies. Success stories that demonstrate the impact of femtech could help when it comes to changing people’s attitudes.

The stakes for overcoming these barriers are huge. When we help a woman, this has a ripple effect – we help her whole family and community. In years to come, femtech could be greatly beneficial, not just to women’s health, but to whole societies.

For these technologies to become mainstream, we’ll need to overcome the cultural barriers and taboos surrounding women’s health.

Henri Kornmann
Director of Biologics Development at Ferring Pharmaceuticals
Henri Kornmann joined Ferring in 2019 with the mission of building a team of experts dedicated to the development of innovative molecules derived from biotechnologies. This new team established themselves at Biopôle in Lausanne to leverage the talent and expertise on the campus. Prior to joining Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Henri spent almost 20 years leading the development and manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals and medical devices, notably at Biogen, Medtronic, Merck, and Nestlé Health Science. He is a graduate of the Swiss Institute of Technology Lausanne and holds a Ph.D. in Bioprocess Science.
Ferring Pharmaceuticals
Ferring Pharmaceuticals is a leader in reproductive medicine and maternal health. It has been developing treatments for mothers and babies for over 50 years. Through innovation in fertility, obstetrics and gynaecology, we help people around the world to build families of every shape and size. As part of this journey, Ferring Pharmaceuticals also partners with femtech hubs such as Eve in Israel and Tech4Eva in Switzerland, which help femtech start‑ups to grow and thrive.
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