May 26, 2022

Femtech has been attracting more attention and venture capital in recent years, with dozens of startups emerging, ranging from digital health apps to more innovative, regenerative pharmaceutical companies. Most of these deals involve infertility and it’s easy to see why. The CDC reports that among American women ages 15 to 49 with no previous birth, 26% have trouble conceiving or conceiving.

However, founders and investors are gradually facing an even greater possibility of menopause., which affects half the population and is becoming more prominent as the world’s demographic age increases, due in part to the shift to smaller families that began in the late 1960s and increasing life expectancy. (From 1980 to 2016, life expectancy at birth increased from 73.7 to 78.6 years).

The numbers indicate the possibilities. According to the latest data from the United Nations, the number of older people in the general population is indeed increasing rapidly. In 2020, there were 727 million people aged 65 and over in the world; This number is expected to double to 1.5 billion by 2050. That’s why we’re starting to see an increase in companies targeting the elderly, from reverse mortgage lenders to senior home care startups.

However, menopause, which is certainly a huge market, continues to attract a flood of investment dollars. Only a dozen menopause startups have raised funding in the last 12 months, according to Crunchbase.

The most recent of these is Viera Health, which provides personalized digital therapies for women going through menopause, and this week announced its second round of funding ($12 million). The deal follows a $10 million round announced last month for HerMD, an organization dedicated to opening an offline center dedicated to women’s sexual health and menopause (now there are two). Gameto, a company that aims to delay and even eradicate menopause through regenerative medicine, announced $20 million in funding in January.

Compared to dollars invested elsewhere, often with i-to, this is depressing. This is even more shocking considering that premenopausal, menopausal or postmenopausal women tend to be at the peak of their purchasing power.

Frankly, investors have many reasons to hesitate, including the fact that many of them are men and will never go through menopause. In fact, most of the companies funded so far have received checks from female venture capitalists.

There are no “breakthrough” consumer brands that target menopausal women.

While some of the most expensive investments — the development of hormone replacement therapy — have proven to be very profitable for pharmaceutical companies, they also suffer from safety issues, and the path to introducing new drugs is riddled with setbacks. (Astellas, a Japanese multinational pharmaceutical company, may be the latest to miss a phase III trial in Asia.)

However, growth investors may want to take a closer look at menopause as a market. Advances in biology, computing, automation, and artificial intelligence in recent years have led to increased interest in menopause from a number of stakeholders, including regenerative medicine, the process of creating living functional tissue with a focus on repairing or replacing a tissue or organ involves focusing. A feature that has been lost.

Gameto, for example, with the support of Future Ventures, hopes to cure some of the health problems associated with menopause, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and before the ovaries stop working as an organ. Use cell therapy to prolong time. Osteoporosis. , postpone. I (The CEO believes that women deserve a better quality of life because they live longer.)

There is growing evidence that there are more treatment options. For example, researchers are only now beginning to feel the impact of menopause on the female brain. “Many symptoms of menopause cannot be caused directly by the ovaries when you think about hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, depression, insomnia, brain fog,” says Lisa Mosconi, assistant professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine. The Women’s Brain Initiative reported this to the New York Times in July. “These are symptoms of the brain, and we need to look at the brain as something that is affected by menopause at least as much as your ovaries.”

As for the lack of breakthrough consumer brands targeting women going through menopause, including brands that ease signs and symptoms and help manage chronic conditions, they may not be far off.

One seems certain. This is a disadvantaged market that is growing rapidly and rich in target groups. Add to that the ability to champion category-defining brands, and you might be wondering: why are venture capitalists and founders, for that matter, no longer focused on menopause?

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