Women’s Digital Health Startups Reap Record VC Funding on Covid Surge

After being seen as an overly risky niche for years, women-focused digital health startups are finally beginning to see significant funding come their way. According to research and investment firm Rock Health, funding for women-focused digital health startups rose 105% last year to $418 million spread across 22 deals—nearly twice the number from the year before.

But despite the recent jump in investor interest, Rock Health says femtech companies only account for 3% of overall digital health funding in 2020. “Proving the return on investment is the hardest thing for most healthcare companies—providing it for women’s health is even harder, even if we may have overcome the barrier of belief that women’s health opportunities are significant,” said Rock Health CEO Bill Evans.

In 2020, the biggest femtech investments included $121 million for prenatal testing, carrier screening, and hereditary cancer testing; $55 million for wearable breast pump maker Willow; and $45 million for Maven Clinic, a virtual health hub.

Other capital raises in the femtech sector include $24 million for Tia, a full-spectrum women’s health company providing services from primary care, gynecology, and therapy to nutrition counseling and acupuncture, both virtually and in person; and Oula Health, which provides midwives, obstetricians, doulas, and lactation consultants through telehealth as well as its brick-and-mortar clinic.

Oula Health COO Elaine Purcell said that getting male investors to understand the importance of its offerings wasn’t easy. “It was a challenge,” she said. “They personally hadn’t gone through it and couldn’t fully understand the birth experience and the need to change the status quo.”

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