RALEIGH — Women have long been underserved by the healthcare industry, but that’s getting ready to change. A new sector coined “FemTech” has emerged in recent years, and it’s focused on introducing cutting-edge health technologies for women.

This week, Zurich-based Femtechnology.org will be broadcasting its virtual summit featuring researchers, investors, and clinicians innovating in the space to give a “360-degree perspective” on where the field is headed. In-person watch parties will be taking place around the world, and the Triangle is not excluded.

FemTech Focus, a local nonprofit raising awareness for sex-specific healthcare innovation, will be hosting a two-day hybrid event that includes an in-person watch party of the summit at the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic on Wednesday, June 1 starting at 9am. This will be followed by on-site panels, networking and workshops and an evening fireside chat at Raleigh Founded Warehouse starting at 5.30pm.

On Thursday, June 2, a second session will be held during the day at NC State accompanied by another evening of networking and panels at Biomilq headquarters in Durham.

FemTech revolution: Co-founder Brittany Barreto of FemTech Focus leads the charge in the Triangle

“I’m excited to introduce people to FemTech and the wide possibilities that exist,” Brittany Barreto, PhD., FemTech Focus co-founder and executive director, told WRAL TechWire. “Most folks have no clue how male-bias medicine is today. This has led to a healthcare system optimized for male health and women suffer the consequences.”

Brittany Barreto, PhD., Femtech Focus co-founder and executive director

The FemTech industry accounts for only 1.4% of capital invested in healthcare. Meanwhile, only 4% of healthcare research and development funding is targeted at women’s health, according to a recent FemTech Analytics report.

Yet interest in the space is rising.

Depending on scope, estimates for FemTech’s current market size range from $500 million to $1 billion, and forecasts suggest opportunities for double-digit revenue growth, a McKinsey & Company study reported. “In some cases, FemTech companies are filling gaps not yet addressed by biopharma and device incumbents, such as in the area of maternal health,” the report stated. Calling it “promising,” the report added that it is still only the beginning: “There are still significant white spaces.”

FemTech includes a broad spectrum of digital technologies across a number of female-specific conditions. Among them: maternal health, menstrual health, pelvic and sexual health, fertility, menopause, and contraception, as well as a number of general health conditions that affect women disproportionately or differently (such as osteoporosis or cardiovascular disease). Solutions range from wearable and clinical devices, diagnostic appliances to products, platforms, software, apps, or services.

In the Triangle, there are several strong femtech companies: Biomilq, Free to Feed, Anelleo, EXO technologies, Sprout Pharmaceuticals, and Bio-Aesthetics.

“Personally, I think RTP has a lot of strengths that could position us as an ideal FemTech hub,” Barreto said. “I’m excited for us to discuss the opportunities.”

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