The FemTech market, a promising sector in Switzerland –

Still considered a niche market by most investors, technologies related to women’s health are growing all over the world. Switzerland invested nearly 400 million francs in the field in 2021.

A contraction of the English words “Female” and “Technology”, the term FemTech designates a sector of activity that brings together all the new technologies related to women’s health. Very diverse, this neologism includes many actors that meet this need: pharmaceutical field, Medtech or technology companies.

Among research areas, most companies are dedicated to issues related to pregnancy and breastfeeding, reproductive health and menstruation. But there are many sub-sectors: women’s general health, mental health, or menopause.

The Swiss Femtech ecosystem for the year 2021 [Femtech Analytics]

According to the FemTech Analytics agency report1300 companies around the world are related to this field, including 85 that have elected domicile in Switzerland.

REA Diagnostics is one of them. From its laboratory located at EPFL, the Swiss start-up is developing a connected sanitary pad designed to monitor the risks of delivering premature babies.

“Our system is able to analyze vaginal secretions and detect biomedical markers of preterm birth, thanks to a biochip inserted into the pad. The analyzes are then sent to the user’s smartphone: if the test is negative, there is no risk of delivery during childbirth after 7 days”, explains its founder Loulia Kassem. Clinical trials, carried out in conjunction with CHUV, will begin shortly. The start-up hopes to be commercialized by the end of 2024.

Promising market

For many investors, the sector remains a niche, despite the strong potential it represents. According to the FemTech Analytics agency, the global Femtech market is expected to reach about 75 billion dollars by 2025. Hence the paradox: despite strong growth, it remains underfunded, while women’s health affects 50% of the world’s population.

“The subject has been taboo and stigmatized for a long time. We are just beginning to recognize the lack of solutions and scientific research in the area”, explains Loulia Kassem. “Other aspects add up: for a long time, women were excluded from clinical trials and underrepresented in the areas of entrepreneurship and engineering”.

To boost exchanges between companies and investors, several initiatives were launched. In Switzerland, EPFL and Groupe Mutuel have joined forces to launch Tech4Eva, a start-up accelerator dedicated to FemTech. “Currently, only 4% of investments in research and innovation are dedicated specifically to women’s health. This is very little and must change”, underlines Sophie Revaz, member of the general management of Groupe Mutuel. “It’s a niche market, but it represents enormous potential for growth,” she adds.

As a sign of growing interest, some FemTechs have gone public in recent years. For example, Swiss biotech ObsEva, which is developing a treatment for endometriosis, joined the Nasdaq in 2017.

well placed switzerland

If the sector remains underfunded, Switzerland is well placed in terms of investments for FemTech: 400 million francs for the year 2021. Thus, it ranks fourth in the world, behind the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom.

The countries that invest the most in the femtech sector [Femtech Analytics]The countries that invest the most in the femtech sector [Femtech Analytics]

At EPFL Innovation Park, startup accelerator Tech4eva wants to promote solutions and technologies that work for women’s health. Launched in 2021, the structure received more than a hundred applications and allowed the 30 selected companies to raise 60 million francs.

>> Read also: Switzerland is very successful in funding medical start-ups

“We offer enhanced support to startups at Femtech, helping them financially, without demanding compensation. Startups collaborate with companies, who invest in them or provide their expertise”, explains its director Lan Zuo Guillet.

According to her, Switzerland is very well positioned to take advantage of the development of technologies related to women’s health. “We have a very developed pharmaceutical industry and a very efficient Medtech. If we add universities and research institutes, we can become leaders in the area”.

>> Details from Cynthia Gani, Head of the Company Section:

The morphological specificities of women are better taken into account thanks to the development of

The morphological specifics of women are better considered thanks to the development of “femtechs”. Comment by Cynthia Gani / 19:30 / 1 min. / yesterday at 7:30 pm

Sarah Jelassi

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