Apr 25, 2024 - News

Bay Area leads in "femtech" growth potential

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A research assistant works in a San Francisco lab. Photo: Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The Bay Area "femtech" sector — focused on technological products and services tailored toward women's health — has grown substantially in the last few years amid broader challenges in the tech industry, a recent report finds.

Why it matters: Femtech is an emerging but underserved field, according to CNBC. It can range from health care solutions for fertility and menopause to retail skin care products and prescription drugs.

  • Broader awareness of these issues, as well as a surge in demand for telehealth options, has helped increase the field's growth potential, the report's authors say.

State of play: The Bay Area's femtech sector has recorded over 2.5 times the number of venture deals since 2020, per Deloitte.

  • That equates to 48 deals over the last three years, including 11 deals valued at $222 million in 2023 alone.
  • "The Bay Area is clearly an epicenter for forward thinking, biotechnology, development as well," co-author Heather Gates, who oversees Deloitte's audit and assurance private growth team, told Axios. "There's a built-in infrastructure that lends itself very easily" to femtech.
  • Redwood City's Bone Health Technologies, for instance, announced last month that it had raised a new $5 million funding round for its wearable vibration device, which aims to slow the loss of bone density in postmenopausal women.
  • In 2023, there were a total of 35 deals nationwide, valued at nearly $600 million.

What they're saying: Women represent over 50% of the U.S. population but often aren't recognized as having unique needs since they've historically been underrepresented in clinical trials, Gates noted.

  • Menopause is particularly understudied — "it's more than just not having a period," Gates said.
  • Alicia Jackson, CEO and founder of a digital menopause treatment company, told Axios she started Evernow after learning about the impacts menopause has on long-term health, from Alzheimer's to metabolic disease and more.
  • "There's been a real sea change in terms of investment in this space," Jackson added. "So many more funds now have female partners ... who are interested in it and want to do something, and that's a big shift from five years ago."

Yes, but: Despite strong VC participation, lack of diversity and inherent bias still hinder funding, with only 2% of total VC investments in the U.S. oing to women-led startups in 2023, Deloitte's report notes.

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