The global femtech market will reach over $20bn by 2030 driven by technology advances and a growing awareness of the unmet healthcare needs of women.

The global femtech market was valued at $5.79bn in 2022. According to Fortune Business Insights, the market will grow from $6.69bn in 2023 to $20.59bn by 2030, representing a compound annual growth rate of 17.4%.

Research analyst GlobalData defines femtech as the use of technology to improve and support women’s health and well-being. The femtech market has grown significantly in recent years, with start-ups launching products and services ranging from apps and digital platforms to medical devices, wearables, and virtual care.

Despite comprising half of the world’s population, women’s health is often under- represented in research and clinical trials, with this gender bias leading to limited knowledge about female conditions and health outcomes for women, says GlobalData research analyst, Waafa Hassan.

Globally, 1.6 billion women are living with a gynaecological condition, according to the University of Washington’s School of Medicine’s health research organisation IHME. But women’s health is frequently given a lower priority, resulting in less knowledge about conditions that only affect women including common gynaecological conditions that can severely impact health and well-being.

For example, the average time taken to diagnose endometriosis in the US is 10 years. The diagnosis period has not improved in over 20 years, with similar findings seen in a study from 1996, notes Hassan.

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“There is a lack of attention given to female-specific health issues like reproductive health, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, which are not widely discussed and underfunded,” says Hassan.

Women are underserved within the health sector and, therefore, present a significant business opportunity. There are more women in the workforce than ever before. This equates to women becoming a rapidly growing consumer base with roughly $31.8tn at their disposal and owning 75% of the world’s discretionary spend by 2028, according to market research company Nielsen.

Why is the femtech market growing now?

Femtech market growth has been accelerated by an increased awareness of women’s health care issues as well as widespread smartphone adoption, wearable technology and the rise of telemedicine apps during the Covid-19 crisis, according to GlobalData thematic research’s femtech report, issued in April, 2023.

Big data and AI have helped grow and develop a market in personalised health solutions, more generally. These AI platforms enable better monitoring of diseases, can predict risk outcomes and detect health problems sooner than ever before. Recent advances in generative AI, for example, have significant implications for medical care provided by chatbots. And virtual reality has great potential in the field of remote medical care, both in a clinical and surgical setting.

“There is a growing demand for products that support disease, management, tracking, and early detection. With the growth of femtech, women are increasingly able to access patient-centered information as well as tools and technologies that empower them to actively take control of their health and well being,” says Hassan.

More investment needed in femtech

However, femtech suffers from funding challenges compared with other areas of healthtech, according to Hassan. “One of the biggest funding barriers is hesitation from male-led venture capital firms which is tied to taboos surrounding women’s bodies. Men may still feel uncomfortable talking about menstruation, pregnancy or menopause,” she adds.

Despite women making approximately 80% of healthcare purchasing decisions in the US (arguably the place with the most available venture capital), according to the US department of Labour, investors still view femtech investments as niche investment opportunities.

Julia Hawkins, general partner at UK based venture capital fund, LocalGlobe, says it is important to highlight that women’s health is not a niche market. Hawkins is keen to point out the growth potential of the femtech market by referencing large and successful companies dedicated to women’s health including Maven and Kindbody. “But I think the term femtech is off-putting,” she adds.

The term femtech was coined by Ida Tin, founder of menstruation tracking app Clue, launched in 2016. Clue is one of femtech’s biggest success stories to date, with around 11 million people in over 190 countries using the app.

Another success story is the Ava fertility tracker, a wearable device that tracks women’s menstrual cycles and provides insight into fertility, pregnancy and overall health. According to the World Health Organisation, one is six couples are struggling with fertility issues. The bracelet was developed by Swiss start-up, Ava Science, in 2014 and has since helped over 50,000 women become pregnant.

But despite some high-profile success stories, female founders, overall, still receive a small proportion of venture funding, according to Hawkins. “I think many funds are not yet diverse enough and even if partnerships now often do have women on the investment teams, they are not in a majority and it makes it more difficult to build and share conviction in topics that only relate to women,” adds Hawkins.

And while female founders are key to femtech’s growth, men must also play a key role. “It’s fair to say that Localglobe’s femtech investments (Ferly, Vira and Hertility) have all been backed by men at other funds who are, in fact, very bullish on the companies and several men within Localglobe have played big roles in getting to shared conviction, winning the investments and working with the founders,” adds Hawkins.

Aside from funding challenges, regulation will be an additional challenge for the femtech market going forward. The industry has, so far, fallen under the radar of regulatory oversight leading to concerns regarding safety, efficacy, and data privacy. Many industry leaders consider this a significant hurdle to overcome as the industry grows, particularly as femtech products require very personal information about sexual activity, health and fertility. In addition, a lack of regulation leaves the industry open to companies making false or misleading claims or launching products which lack safety and efficacy.

But despite funding and regulatory challenges, the femtech market will see continued growth as investors start to recognise its potential and femtech becomes a primary healthtech sector in its own right.