Experts Column

Femtech Industry on the Rise in India & Globally

In recent years there has been a growing emphasis on women empowerment, increasing representation of women in the technological community. As a consequence, there has also been increased awareness in terms of women's health and the growing prevalence of infectious diseases among females in low to middle-income countries. While healthcare was always looked at as a universal sector that included all genders, lately there has been a growing emphasis on women-related health issues. These are the factors that are allowing the companies to create products and healthcare solutions specific to women. Additionally, there has also been a surge in funding activities in the sector, giving a burgeoning status to the global Femtech industry.

Femtech (or female technology) is an umbrella term that includes software, diagnostics, products, and services that use technology to focus on women's health. The sector includes fertility solutions, period-tracking app, pregnancy and nursing care, women's sexual wellness, and reproductive system health care. Femtech is a broad term that includes wearables, internet-connected medical devices, mobile apps, grooming products, and other digital or traditional health resources targeted at women's health.

"Femtech" has served and continues to serve the purpose of providing a catchy reference to a business sector that focuses on software, diagnostics, products, and tech-enabled health services to meet the health and wellness needs of women and people with related health issues. The global Femtech market was valued at $820.6 million in 2019 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 15.58 percent and reach $3.04 billion by 2030.

There are numerous femtech companies offering a variety of different products throughout the world. Globally over 200 femtech startups have set up shop and a large chunk of them are entirely led by women. Menstruation, pregnancy and child care, sexual wellbeing, and hygiene are some of the main focus areas for femtech. In a country like India, where women's rights and needs are often overlooked, the advancement of femtech and increased knowledge of such products will dramatically improve women's quality of life.

The growth of the sector in the future is quite evident. The number of women-centric startups has significantly multiplied in recent years. The femtech companies are focusing on spreading awareness about reproductive health and menstrual hygiene issues.

Companies that produce period-and/or fertility-tracking mobile apps include Clue, DOT, Glow, Eve, Cycles, My Calendar, Life, FertilityIQ, Lady Cycle, and many more.

The fertility company, 'Ava', produces a wearable that tracks fertility, 'Nrux' provides a telemedicine service where women can get birth control prescribed via an app, 'Elvie' and 'Willow' produce a wearable breast pump which is connected to an app, 'Lioness' produces a smart vibrator with an app that uses biofeedback to help people learn more about their bodies, and 'MobileODT' a startup uses smartphones and AI to screen for cervical cancer.

There are also femtech companies that may or may not use an internet connection. Joylux is a women's health technology company creating medical and feminine wellness devices under the vSculpt and vFit brands. There are also companies like L and Flex that offer alternatives to standard menstrual hygiene and contraception. 'Thinx' has developed reusable underwear that absorbs menstrual blood while iPulse Medical sells a menstrual pain relief wearable device.

Femtech startups received $82 million in funding from venture capital firms in 2015. The total amount of funding raised by femtech companies since 2014 was estimated to be $1.1 billion in March 2017. According to a study by Frost & Sullivan Market Research on Femtech, the market is underserved but has the potential to grow to $9.4 billion by 2024.

The evolution of femtech will have a huge effect because it will make healthcare more minimally invasive, less intrusive, functional, personalized, and affordable for Indians. To enhance performance, businesses in this field are incorporating technologies such as AI, big data, and analytics. The sector's expansion has resulted in an increase in investment in the sector.

It was estimated that approximately $200 billion is being spent on femtech products each year.  According to Forbes, femtech companies face difficulties in raising money because women's health issues are not always understood by investors, women are underrepresented in the investment community, and female founders are reluctant to ask for money. Female-led startups receive just 10 percent of global funding. Data Bridge, a research firm, predicted that by 2026 the global fertility industry alone would rise to $441 billion in sales. Another report released in March 2020 by Frost & Sullivan, estimated that revenue from the femtech sector is expected to reach $1.1 billion by 2024.

Femtech companies will benefit if they stay true to their mission and improve the devices, products, and applications that they currently sell, and this development will make life easier for women all over the globe.