4 min read
FemTech is surging around the world with new start-ups and technology entering the marketplace every day, but what’s going on Down Under?
Need for FemTech
As of June 2019, just over half of Australia’s population faced complicated genetic, physiological and hormonal factors making them prone to and more severely affected by certain conditions in comparison to the other half of the population.
Conditions such as heart diseases, osteoarthritis, cancers, strokes and autoimmune diseases present in women differently and pose considerable health risks.
While FemTech is rapidly growing in Australia, increased health technology options are still needed to support Australian women. This has become even more apparent during the pandemic where existing inequalities in healthcare for women have been laid bare.
Research is currently well placed in Australia with the Australian Government announcing they will be investing $354 million over the next four years to support the health and wellbeing of Australia’s women, including funding for cervical and breast cancer, endometriosis and reproductive health.
Current market snapshot
FemTech in Australia is still relatively new and unchartered territory. No official study has been conducted about Australian FemTech companies, however, the rise of new FemTech companies and products is undeniably on an upward trajectory.
The Women’s Health Summit 2021 hosted by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists highlighted issues and deficiencies in the Australian healthcare system about health equity for women; access to mental health, contraception, abortion, sexual health and reproductive services; preventative approaches to chronic diseases; and areas in the medical industry where data about women lack.
FemTech typically spans across medical devices, digital health applications and direct to consumer products. Even though medical related digital health applications have only entered the market within the last decade, they are fast becoming the front runner for providing women with access to crucial information about medical conditions, including their diagnosis, treatment and management. Their popularity, which has reached new heights, is primarily due to their accessibility and ease of use.
The following Australian companies have redesigned, reinvented and recycled technology to benefit the health of women:
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulators (TENS) have typically been used for musculoskeletal pain, such as chronic back pain or knee joint arthritis.
Ovira, a female owned start-up had other ideas for TENS and have developed a non-invasive and instant period pain relief through their device, Noha. The Noha device sends low-level pulses of electric vibrations to the abdomen to block pain signals from being sent to the brain.
Since their conception, menstrual products have made their way from rags to riches. Starting off from cloth, bandages, cotton and wool in the 1800’s to disposable pads, winged pads, and tampons in the 1900’s, menstrual products have come a long way.
Modibodi, are at the forefront of menstrual technology and provide reusable and sustainable leak-proof period apparel that replaces the need for disposable products such as panty liners, tampons, pads, and incontinence products.
Juju, a socially responsible and environmentally conscious company manufactures Australia’s only made menstrual cup.
Payment solutions for the adult industry
Businesses and workers operating in the sex industry find themselves facing discrimination and often struggle to get finance or financial services.
Intimate.io, a blockchain startup, has taken this issue into their own hands. Intiamte.io is focused on solving issues inherent in the adult industry by establishing a cryptocurrency to operate as a digital payment option for adult or sexual products, services or offerings.
Despite major technological advancements in IVF, the success rates of IVF still remain very low.
Life Whisperer, an AI focused company, has been using AI to increase the chance of pregnancy through IVF by identifying morphological features that constitute a healthy embryo.
Future of FemTech Down Under
With women comprising over 50% of the population, these emerging companies have a huge opportunity to improve the health and wellbeing of millions of Australians. We expect the Australian FemTech market to continue to grow with local start-ups and from the expansion of international FemTech companies.
It is encouraging to observe the recognition by the Australian Government of the need for better understanding of pressing health challenges faced by women and the injection of money into the women’s health sector to combat some of the challenges.
Companies like Ovira, Modibodi, Juju, Intimate.io and Life Whisperer continue to break boundaries and use technology to find solutions to age old women’s health issues.
Shelston IP are proud supporters of FemTech, assisting FemTech businesses to protect their innovative new products and develop and implement intellectual property strategies to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.
Authored by Connie Land and Allira Hudson-Gofers