Last week (July 11-12), the WHII Conference on Innovation in the Field of Femtech and Gynecology took place in Tel Aviv, Israel. The conference was initiated by Prof. Moshe Hod of GYNICA and Dr. Benny Zeevi, Managing General Partner at Tel Aviv Venture Partners, and attended by leading women and professionals from around the world and Israel. Conference participants, doctors and scientists, and representatives of large companies and startups from all over the world dealing with women's health, obstetrics and femtech, presented advanced approaches to women's health around the world. At the conference, more than 60 international startups presented their unique solutions to solve the distortion of women's health. Here is a taste of some of the Israeli femtech startups that participated, and how they are making strides for women everywhere, by means of technology.
OCON developed the IUB™, a spherical non-invasive intrauterine drug-delivery platform which addresses a multibillion-dollar market in women’s health. The company’s flagship product, the small and flexible IUB™ Ballerine® contraceptive is equally effective as traditional shaped IUDs but excels in safety when compared to copper and plastic IUDs. As far as the company is aware, the global contraception market is estimated to reach over $30 billion by 2025. OCON has additional IUB™ pipeline products in different stages of development, including the IUB™ SEAD™, a disruptive treatment for AUB (Abnormal Uterine Bleeding), which is in phase II clinical studies in Israel and Europe as an alternative to aggressive ablation procedures including hysterectomies. The trials are already showing encouraging results. They are also developing the IUB™ PRIMA™, a therapeutic-drug-delivery to target therapy areas such as endometriosis and myomas as well as heavy menstrual bleeding and other indications. With this product, women have an alternative that won’t yield systemic side effects from oral consumption.
Dr. Robert Auerbach, former President, and CEO of CooperSurgical, a Yale Professor of OB GYN and an OCON healthcare Board director said: “There has not been any innovation in IUDs since the early 2000s. OCON’s transformational design which adapts to the 3D space of the uterus enables an approach to treating pelvic pathologies directly. This 3D platform was validated on over 100K women as a contraceptive and its next-generation devices create a whole new category for treating women's pelvic pathologies.”
OCON was founded back in 2011. Dr. Ilan Baram, founder of OCON saw a huge gap in the ability to deliver drugs, therapeutics, and formulations to the uterus in a safer more fitting manner throughout her career as an OBGYN. OCON has 21 employees out of which 85% are women. To date, OCON has raised close to $30M from leading investors including Pontifax VC, Rhia Ventures, Merchavia, Astia Angels and Features capital.
Aquafit Intimate is pioneering sexual wellness self-care products and services for women. They have created Intimate Gel Sticks (all-natural, advanced hydrogel) that let 40% of women of all ages have pain-free intimacy by combining pelvic/vaginal muscle training, with pH balance and active agent delivery.
Aquafit PRÉ, Gentle Hydration, with hyaluronic acid and vitamin B3 improves vaginal elasticity and helps relax pelvic muscle spasms. It also hydrates and relieves vaginal dryness and atrophy. It was designed for young women experiencing vaginismus, women in menopause, and or women who are recovering from experiencing dryness, atrophy, and painful sex due to estrogen depletion. Aquafit BIO, Feminine Balance with lactic acid, vitamin C and Aloe Vera restores normal pH 3.8-4.5 (moderately acidic) and thus supports the growth of protective flora (Lactobacilli) while reducing pathogenic bacteria. It relieves vaginal dryness, itching and burning. This product was designed for women recovering from childbirth and experiencing postpartum vaginal pain and shifting estrogen and pH levels with breastfeeding, which can lead to dryness, infections, and painful sex. Aquafit Intimate digital / ai-based Self-Care Space makes sexual wellness accessible, anywhere, anytime. Through self-reporting, women can better understand their sexual wellness concerns by getting an assessment and personalized intimate training plan. It also allows users to log and track their intimate training progress.
Aquafit Intimate products and services are direct to consumers and have been available online since 2021, with over 800+ registered users. Founded in 2017, Aquafit Intimate has been supported by the Israel Innovation Authority (Grant) and The Case for Her.
MobileODT is an Israeli femtech company, founded in 2017, with a vision to revolutionize cervical cancer screening by developing an advanced digital mobile colposcope powered by AI. Until now, more than 1 million cervical images have been taken with the MobileODT EVA digital colposcope. Leon A. Boston, CEO of MobileODT stated: "With more than 300,000 women dying from cervical cancer each year, MobileODT is poised to become one of the most impactful companies in this market. Currently we are the only company that can establish screening programs around the world, at scale, supporting the World Health Organization strategic objective to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030." MobileODT is evolving from a position as a leader in cervical cancer diagnostics to offering a more holistic solution to practitioners with the convenience of a one-stop-shop solution for all their screening and treatment needs. As part of this strategy, the company is introducing three new products to the market: EVA Pro, a next-gen digital colposcope with exceptional image quality; the ThermoGlide which is used for immediate point-of-care thermocoagulation, for less severe treatment cases; and LEEP (LETZ) technology, which is for more severe thermocoagulation and is soon to be released with FDA certification.
Boston continued by saying, "Our strategic direction is perfectly in sync with the WHO recommendations of a "screen and treat" platform. We offer an immediate point of care solution for 75% of women who can be treated immediately in a single setting. The single sitting program allows us to overcome the major challenge of loss to follow-up of 60% of the women in the developing world, not returning for a scheduled treatment.”
MobileODT is based in Tel Aviv and has 30 employees. The products are FDA and CE approved and sold in over 40 countries worldwide and across more than 60 health systems including prominent organizations like the NHS (UK), Planned Parenthood (U.S.), and FPA (U.S.).
Tempdrop is helping advance women’s reproductive health throughout every stage. Their unique patented algorithm learns and pinpoints every woman's personal nightly and monthly patterns allowing her to accurately identify her fertile window. Tempdrop is tailored to women that are looking to increase their chances of conceiving or are practicing fertility awareness methods. It’s also very helpful for women that are interested in tracking their hormonal health. Their product is a smart wearable sensor combined with a charting app that brings an all-in-one fertility monitor to your smartphone. Unlike other fertility apps that require waking up daily to take an oral temperature, Tempdrop is accurate yet hassle-free. Simply wear the sensor on your upper arm during sleep and sync with the app whenever it's convenient.
The company was founded by Michael Vardi (CEO), a biomedical engineer, who was determined to find a better way to track the ovulation cycle and pinpoint the optimal time for conception. She stated, "I believe every woman should be empowered and equipped with the knowledge to take control of their body."
Tempdrop was founded in 2017 by Vardi and has been bootstrapped ever since. They are located in Tel Aviv and have 14 employees. Their product is produced in Israel, but they sell mostly to the U.S. and Europe. They are currently raising funds for a Series A round.
Preterm birth (PTB), delivery at 24 to 37 weeks of pregnancy, is the most common, catastrophic, and costly complication of pregnancy. 1 in 10 babies are born prematurely. This amounts to 15 million babies worldwide, of which one million do not survive. PTB is the leading cause of global neonatal morbidity and up to 50% of neurological impairments in children younger than five. So, babies born prematurely pose a substantial financial burden to healthcare systems and society. But treating a preterm newborn is ten times more costly than that of a baby born at term. Costs associated with PTB surpass $25 billion annually in the U.S. alone. Yet, delaying PTB by just one week can improve outcomes and reduce expenses by ~25%.
Treatments such as hormones, medications, stitching the cervix (cerclage), and pessaries don’t always do the trick, so the rates of PTB have not changed in decades. PregnanTech seeks to change that. They have a non-surgical device for delaying preterm birth, dubbed LIONESS™ . LIONESS is a silicone ring that maintains its position high around the uterine cervix (at the site of the Shirodkar cerclage) despite pressure and contractions. It avoids cervical dilatation, reduces load, keeps the cervix elongated, and delays the biomechanical cascade leading to PTB. What’s more is that it is simply placed by the doctor as an outpatient procedure and takes only a few minutes. It is equally simple to remove when a patient is reaching term but also has a self-release mechanism for those who go into active labour. As PregnanTech’s founder and CEO, Dr. David Shashar, stated:
PregnanTech evolved from a collaboration between hospital physicians and engineers working together to develop new innovative technological solutions to unmet medical needs. PregnanTech is a portfolio company of The Trendlines Group – an innovation commercialization company that discovers, invests in, and incubates innovation-based medical and agricultural technologies. "Pregnancy should reach nine months. Babies should be born at term and two days later discharged home. But there are babies born preterm, immediately taken to the Intensive care unit, for weeks and even months with their family members not knowing if they will live or die. Every additional week makes a difference and PregnanTech's LIONESS can help. We are on a mission to bring about significant change in women's and pediatric health and decrease the morbidity and mortality of millions of babies worldwide.”
PregnanTech's is headquartered in Nahariya, Israel. They are in the middle of a Series A fundraising round which is planned to be announced during the second half of 2022.