Despite economic headwinds and a pressured venture fundraising environment, investment in startup companies addressing women’s health is on the rise. According to a recent report from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), a division of First Citizens Bank, investment in women’s health companies increased 314 percent since 2018. The overall investment in the health sector increased by 28 percent.
SVB’s Innovation in Women’s Health Report examines fundraising, investment activity and capital and valuation trends across the sector. The report defines women’s health as healthtech, biopharma, diagnostics/tools and medical device companies that address underserved care needs for women. This includes conditions that uniquely impact women, conditions that differently or disproportionately impact women and conditions that are marked by gender-based discrepancies in care.
“Despite broader challenges in the larger venture capital landscape, women’s health is showing significant momentum and progress,” said Raysa Bousleiman, co-author of the SVB Innovation in Women’s Health report and VP of Venture Capital Relationship Management for Life Science and Healthcare at SVB. “Investors and companies are challenging the misconception that women’s health is restricted to reproductive years. They are realizing the tremendous opportunity to address the complete spectrum of health needs throughout a woman’s life. Investments are increasingly shifting into emerging areas such as menopause, pelvic health and mental health.”
Lack of data impacts funding
Along with other startups, women’s health companies saw valuations drop in 2023. Women’s health companies are typically valued lower than healthcare companies overall. Additionally, seed stage women’s health companies are consistently valued 20 percent lower than overall healthcare companies at the seed stage, according to the data. One reason for the lower valuations could be lack of data collection on women’s health conditions, SVB reported.
“The lack of data on women’s health can be a roadblock for founders when convincing investors there is a need for their company, for accurately estimating market size and for receiving FDA approval,” said Bousleiman. “However, valuations could increase as investors are encouraged by efforts such as the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research. The initiative aims to close the research gaps in the sector. As clinical trials move forward and more data becomes available, the clinical development of diagnostics, devices and therapeutics to address women’s health issues will progress.”
Key report findings: innovation and investment in women’s health
- With a 314 percent increase in women’s health venture capital investment since 2018, 2023 will rank as a top funding year for the sector
- Investments in non-reproduction startups reached $435 million in Q3 2023. This indicates a shift in the long-held misconception that fertility and pregnancy are the sole focus of women’s health
- Averaging $182M investment per quarter, biopharma surpassed healthtech as the top funded women’s health subsector in 2023
- 76 percent of women’s health companies have a female founder. This number is three times higher than companies across the overall innovation ecosystem
SVB released its 2024 Healthcare Exits and Investments report. The annual report delivers relevant insights on the current and future state of the Healthcare market. This report analyzes trends for venture capital investing, fundraising, M&A activity and IPOs for biopharma, medical device, diagnostics and tools and healthtech sectors in the US and Europe. Early data indicates US investors raised $19B for new health-focused VC and growth funds in 2023. This is the third highest amount for any year.
Investment in women’s health
Bousleiman, and other leaders from SVB’s Life Science and Healthcare practice, previewed the 2024 Healthcare Exits and Investments report during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference this week in San Francisco. The team will be speaking at select industry events surrounding the conference including:
- Bousleiman moderated a panel session “Women’s Health: A Huge Area Attracting New Investment” as part of the Biotech Showcase
- Ben Johnson, head of Early Stage Life Science and Healthcare, moderated a panel session “Early Seed Financing: Attracting Investment & Extending Your Runway” as part of the Biotech Showcase
- Scott McCarty, director of Life Science and Healthcare Southeast region, spoke on a panel “The State of the Digital Healthcare Industry“ as part of the Biotech Showcase
- Jackie Spencer, head of US Relationship Management for Life Science and Healthcare practice, spoke on a panel “Crossovers, Megarounds and IPOs: Biotechs Always Find a Way,” at Fierce
To access the complete “Innovation in Women’s Health report” and to watch SVB’s webinar featuring investor, founder and researcher perspectives, “Unlocking the Blue Ocean Opportunities in Women’s Health,” visit Innovation in Women’s Health | Silicon Valley Bank (svb.com)
About Silicon Valley Bank
Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) is a division of First Citizens Bank. It is the bank of some of the world’s most innovative companies and investors. SVB provides commercial and private banking to individuals and companies in the technology, life science and healthcare, private equity, venture capital and premium wine industries. SVB operates in centers of innovation throughout the United States. The company serves the unique needs of its dynamic clients with deep sector expertise, insights and connections. SVB’s parent company, First Citizens BancShares, Inc. (NASDAQ: FCNCA), is a top 20 U.S. financial institution with more than $200 billion in assets. First Citizens Bank, Member FDIC. Learn more at svb.com