Innovation Earns Grand Prize at HITLAB’s Women’s Health Tech Challenge
(PRUnderground) November 30th, 2020
A global audience came together to support FemTech on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day for HITLAB’s third-annual Women’s Health Tech Challenge. Five founders of FemTech startups took the virtual stage to pitch their game-changing health concepts to a panel of judges and investors for prizes valued up to $20,000.
The finalists—HERA, HeyJane, LactApp, Hyivy Health, and K’ept Health—had been selected from a pool of 125 applicants representing 24 countries. Their innovations, described below, all leveraged digital technology to address a range of women’s health issues, from preventive health access in Syrian refugee camps and abortion-pill access in the U.S. to lactation support, pelvic-disese rehabilitation, and tone-specific personalized skin care.
“Female founders are a force to be recognized,” said Susan Solinsky, WHT director and chief growth officer at Ellipsis Health, in her opening remarks. “It will take all of us to create a community that can amplify the voices and talents of women leaders. We’re building a community of men and women that believe women should have a seat at the table–especially where women’s health issues are concerned.” More than 400 attendees joined the four-hour event, which was held Thursday, Nov. 19. View the full event here.
The global market for women’s health services and products is tremendously dynamic: currently estimated at $30 billion and expected to surpass $50 billion in the next five years. Since launching the Women’s Health Tech Challenge in 2018, HITLAB has committed to being at the forefront of impactful change in women’s health, inviting global innovators and entrepreneurs to come together every year to propose their novel solutions to health issues affecting women everywhere.
“By helping females and supporting them on their journey, we are supporting everyone,” said Marija Butkovic, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables, an event sponsor, in her welcoming remarks.
A Powerful Agenda
In addition to 15-minute pitches, including a Q&A with the judges, from the five finalists, the Women’s Health Tech Challenge featured an array of speakers and panel discussion topics, including:
· Innovator Showcase presenter Melanie Goldey, COO and CFO of TMRW Life Sciences, Inc., which is powered by sponsor Goodwin Procter, spoke about what inspired her to leave behind a world of corporate finance for a women’s health tech startup.
· A panel discussion on funding underrepresented female founders, moderated by Stefanie Beasley, partner, Beasley + McCusker Communications, with Julie Castro Abrams, GP, How Women Invest;Shelly Kapoor Collins, founding partner, Shatter Fund; Michele Colucci, JD, managing partner, DigitalDx Ventures; and Noosheen Hashemi, founder, CEO, January.ai, and Deepa Pakianathan, PhD, general partner, Delphi Ventures.
· Julia Cheek, CEO and founder of Everlywell, also shared her passion for two things: increasing accessibility in healthcare and inspiring the next generation of women leaders. Her company is poised to disrupt the $25 billion lab-testing industry by providing consumers with at-home lab tests that include insightful, easy-to-understand results. Ms. Cheek is a seasoned entrepreneur who has taken the stage at conferences like Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit and South by SouthWest.
The Challenge included four break-out sessions led by J. Frogozo of Thinx Inc.; Dr. Elizabeth Rochin of the National Perinatal Information; Elise Mortenson of HTD Health; and Allison Wills of Horizon Government Affairs. The sessions focused on strategies for women’s health technology entrepreneurs. After hearing from the founder of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, Wendy Diamond, HITLAB concluded the virtual conference by presenting seven awards to the finalists, including a tie for fourth place and two bonus prize winners.
“Congratulations to the winners and participants of the HITLAB Women’s Health Tech Challenge. All of the innovations showcased groundbreaking solutions to some of today’s most pressing women’s health inequities,” said Lily Wound, Goodwin partner who served as a judge. “We are particularly proud to support K’ept Health with funding and HyIvy Health with in-kind legal services as they continue to advance healthcare for marginalized and vulnerable women, and improve gender, racial, and LBGTQ+ equity.”
Delphine O’Rourke, also a Goodwin partner and judge, added: “It’s been an honor to partner with HITLAB in creating needed funding opportunities for women’s health innovation and recognizing female founders and leaders in healthcare, further deepening Goodwin’s longstanding commitment to the pioneers and investors of this community.”
And the Winners Are…
Tie for Fourth Place
HeyJane: City, State USA
Empowering women to challenge stigma, Hey Jane offers qualified patients the first fully digital access to clinics that prescribe the abortion pill in the U.S. With 1 in 4 women having an abortion in her lifetime, HeyJane aims to be the affordable, safe, and effective solution for at-home abortions, which increases reproductive health equity.
LactApp: Barcelona, Spain
LactApp is the first app that uses AI technology to provide a personalized experience to mothers seeking advice on breastfeeding and motherhood. As the #1 breastfeeding app in Spain, LactApp aims to provide professional, reliable, and confidential advice to mothers in real-time. LactApp positions itself as a cost-friendly supportive network right at your fingertips.
HERA-Health Recording App: Boston, MA
HERA is an innovative mobile health application intended to help Syrian refugee women navigate the Turkish medical system while living in Turkey under temporary protection. Since 2011, millions of people have been displaced by the war in Syria, many finding themselves susceptible to harsh disease and health conditions. With little access to health services in a foreign environment with poor living conditions, HERA saw a dire need for monumental change, especially for pregnant women. The project aims to improve prenatal care, increase childhood vaccination rates, and, ultimately prevent future health issues and decrease refugee mortality rates.
Hyivy Health: Waterloo, Ontario
Hyivy Health creates intelligent and holistic pelvic rehabilitation devices for women with pelvic-based cancers and diseases, allowing users to track and improve recovery and symptoms throughout diagnosis, surgery, or treatment. As 1 in 3 women will have pelvic health-related issues in their lifetime, Hyivy is set on extending beyond just therapy to provide the first quantifiable data set on pelvic health.
Grand Prize Winner
K’ept Health: Washington, DC
K’ept Health is on a mission to redefine the world of skincare, providing the first holistic and culturally proficient digital skincare and dermatology clinic from the comfort of home. K’ept Health’s smart technology solution is revolutionizing the traditional means of care, designed around putting a woman’s needs first at an affordable price. With 24/7 skin health monitoring, private messaging, and appointment-free virtual care from vetted practitioners, K’ept Health is a changing the landscape for female-centered skincare for all skin tones and types.
Special Prizes and Congratulations
DigitalDx Ventures Award-Coroflo: City, Region, UK
Coroflo is the world’s first breastfeeding monitor with built-in flow measurement to provide accurate, real-time data on your phone and track just how much milk your baby is getting. Corofolo’s innovative, patented sensor technology is small and non-invasive, connecting easily to your phone to instantly measure milk volume and provide holistic, informative data on changes over time.
Rhia Ventures Award-Sonder Health: Carmel, IN, USA
Sonder Health is a platform at the forefront of telemedicine and maternal healthcare, responding to the needs of underrepresented communities of women. Sonder Health provides evidence-based telehealth solutions and services for women, including nutrition, lactation, and advisory consulting to other health companies.
The Women’s Health Tech Challenge was made possible by Susan Solinsky, director of WHT and chief growth officer of Ellipsis Health; Goodwin Procter LLP; Horizon Government Affairs; Nursing Innovation Hub; Women of Wearables; DigitalDx; and Rhia Ventures.
UPCOMING EVENTS FROM HITLAB
RSVP today to join the seventh-annual international HITLAB Innovators Summit, taking place this week. It is the only conference in the world that focuses on the diffusion of digital technologies in the healthcare system.
You can also sign up to join HITLAB’s next Women’s Health Tech Initiative and to be a part of the voice for a better tomorrow in women’s health tech.
HITLAB is an impact-first organization that offers digital health research, teaching, and advisory services to improve health delivery around the world.
At HITLAB, we believe technology and health can work together to improve the quality of health delivery and healthcare worldwide. We use rigorous research and evidence-based methods to identify the best digital health solutions for each of our partners.
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