Celmatix, Elvie, Clue, Prelude Fertility – Women’s health tech companies are up and coming. But still, in a men dominated tech- and investment-world, the struggle is real. Ina Fried, chief technology correspondent for Axios, took the chance at DLD 2018 to open the discussion about the technology and innovation bridging the women’s health tech gap. Her discussion partners: Piraye Yurttas Beim (Celmatix), Tania Boler(Elvie), Ida Tin (Clue) and Martin Varsavsky (Prelude Fertility).
Right at the beginning, Piraye Yurttas Beim makes clear: “There needs to be more investment into the research of women’s health”, because while enough ideas are there, investments are not. Women’s health hardware, like the ones ‘Elvie’ is providing, is still a hard topic on investment rounds: “The combination of hardware, women and health is hard. Hardware is often not interesting enough, technology not seen as a women’s field and health is a subject people do not want to talk about,” Tania Boler sums up the situation.
The speakers agreed on the main problem: There is still a stigma about talking openly about women’s health. “When you introduced ‘Elvie’ earlier, you did not use the term vagina, but actually you should have”, mentions Piraye Yurttas Beim to Tania Boler. “Many women do not talk about their own reproductive health. Actually only one out of five women in the US tell their partners when they have a miscarriage,” she adds. That is why Celmatix has started the campaign “Say The F Word” to get people talking.
Deeply connected with women’s health, reproductive technologies were discussed as well. And as the speakers explained, many technologies are already happening today. Sometimes, as in the case of Germany, they are limited by governmental regulations and ethical concerns. “There are so many opportunities. The challenge is to find the boundaries”, says Tania Boler. Organizations like the British ‘Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority’ (HFEA) could help regulate those boundaries of reproductive technologies like egg donation, modifying embryos or surrogacy. They offer opportunities for experts in fields as wide as health and religion, can come together.
“We need to create an environment where women can live in understanding with the body they have”, says Ida Tin. Still the end goal, all speakers agreed is as Ida Tin puts it: “Not to have a world ruled by women, but an equal one.” For both men and women the opportunities should be created to give them a choice when and how to reproduce. After all, as Martin Varsavsky puts it: “Why have a biological clock that’s running your life?”