Finalists present their FemTech Women’s Health Innovations on Pitch Day, Thursday, Dec. 5, in NYC. Mitigating discomfort and improving diagnostic accuracy and outcomes are the overarching goals of the four projects selected to compete in the 2019 Autumn HITLAB Women’s Health Tech Challenge. The finalists’ winning innovations were designed to treat different conditions in the women’s health spectrum: fertility, long-term breastfeeding, pelvic organ prolapse, and endometriosis.
Each team is now in the running for the $10,000 first-place prize, to be awarded at Pitch Day on Thursday, Dec. 5, at the SAP.iO Foundry in New York’s Hudson Yards. All four teams will compete for other awards (described below) from McKinsey & Company, Horizon Government Affairs, and the HITLAB Breakthrough Alliance, as well as incredible exposure and networking opportunities with HITLAB and high-profile sponsors. All are welcome, tickets available at www.hitlab.org/world-cup.
Following are the four finalists and the health issues they aim to address based on their applications:
Kegg , San Francisco, CA
- The Problem: In the U.S. alone, infertility affects 1 in 10 women—6.1 million—and the number is rising. Moreover, usage of hormonal contraception is on the decline by 11% year after year due to 70% of women reportedly suffering from side effects. Many current fertility monitors focus on side effects that may or may not correlate with what is happening inside a woman’s body.
- The Solution: The inaugural product from a women-centric company, Kegg is a fertility kegel device that collects and analyzes previously difficult-to-attain data from a woman’s cervical fluid to better diagnose and monitor fertility cycles. The device may quadruple the chances of natural conception and replace the pill for pregnancy planning.
LuulaTech’s LuulaPump, Brooklyn, NY
- The Problem: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that babies are fed breast-milk until two years of age. Most mothers try it, but by 6 months, 75% feed formula to babies. Existing breast pumps are in part to blame. Most lactating mothers consider them essential, but also conspicuous, uncomfortable, unintuitive, painful, isolating and degrading.
- The Solution: LuulaPump by LuulaTech is a revolutionary science-based wearable pump: spill proof, dishwashable, and intuitively used with one hand, allowing gentle and discreet pumping in public and in any position. Instead of repackaging existing technology, LuulaTech stepped back and redesigned the pump based on breastfeeding science and with an emphasis on a mother’s experience.
Reia Health, Hanover, NH
- The Problem: Prolapse, a condition affecting 50% of women over the age of 50 to some degree, is characterized by weakened pelvic floor muscles that allow the uterus to descend and, in extreme cases, protrude outside the body. Current non-surgical treatment options are painful or impossible for women to use without the assistance of a practitioner, limiting women’s independence and requiring regular time-intensive and costly doctor appointments.
- The Solution: Reia is developing a novel collapsible pessary that is designed for comfort and enables women to self-manage their prolapse. Alongside this pessary, Reia plans to launch a digital platform to further enhance personalized care.
Oratel Diagnostics’ Endo-Tek , Hammondsport, NY
- The Problem: Endometriosis, a fertility problem affecting 10% of all women, costs the U.S. health system more than $15 billion and continues to be under treated and misdiagnosed in adolescent girls because the current diagnosis is an invasive and costly laparoscopy. Adolescents with endometriosis have an earlier age at menarche, and longer diagnostic delay, resulting in poorer quality of life.
- The Solution: Oratel’s ENDO-Tek is the only saliva-based, easy-to-use, low-cost diagnostic for endometriosis that gives instant results at the time of testing and through a proprietary phone-based app, links the patient to a specialist who counsels on next steps. The technology has demonstrated over 84% sensitivity and up to 92% specificity in three studies.
“We were thrilled with the high-quality submissions we received for the 2019 Autumn Women’s Health Tech Challenge,” said Savira Dargar, Challenge Director. “Judging was intense but in the final analysis, these four disruptors showed the strongest promise of empowering women to improve their health outcomes in cost-effective ways.” Applications were evaluated on impact, innovation, sustainability, feasibility, team and quality of work.