Calling All Start-ups Working to Improve Women’s Health with Technology
Women’s health has become an urgent priority1, and an increasing amount of energetic start-ups are rising to the challenge. Many of the most promising innovations come from small healthcare technology companies, ones that have the agility to work with new ideas and imagine new approaches. Yet for many of these start-ups investment is still an ongoing struggle, especially for women-focused start-ups and those that are women-owned or led.
As women’s health is so important, Sanofi has partnered with the Women’s Forum, AXA, BNP Paribas and Google, in association with the company RB and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to launch an initiative to discover exciting and innovative health technology designed to improve women’s access to health.
Information for Start-ups
Late-stage startups seeking to break down the barriers to safe and quality care for women, and that meet the criteria for participation, are encouraged to enter the competition. The winner will be selected in April and will receive at least €150,000 in financial support as well as mentorship in scaling up their business. Runners-up will also receive support, increased visibility and mentoring.
Renewed Emphasis on Innovation
The initiative is part of a wider commitment by Sanofi to widen access to investment and exposure for start-ups offering innovative healthcare solutions.
“Collectively and individually, we want to support tech entrepreneurs who are improving and promoting access to health for women, thus empowering women to help their families and communities thrive,” said Karen Linehan, Executive Vice President, Legal Affairs and General Counsel, member of the Executive Committee at Sanofi and member of the Women’s Forum Strategic Committee.
In many cases, these efforts focus on incorporating advanced technologies to reach women, even in remote areas. For example, GiftedMom is a leading mobile health solutions provider in Africa, which leverages telecommunication technologies to provide pregnant women and new mothers’ access to health information and strengthen links to antenatal care. Advances in medical technology can be game-changing for women’s healthcare in rural and under-resourced areas.
Artificial intelligence is also playing an integrated role in delivering a range of services. Back in 2007, Dr. Loubna Bouarfa began to research how then-nascent artificial intelligence technology might help predict surgical errors on the spot. Coding much of the technology herself, she demonstrated in 2012 the ability to alert surgeons to potential errors in real time. In 2016, she founded OKRA Technologies to commercialize her innovations, and her start-up is already helping not only healthcare professionals, but also foster parents and foster children2to find the best match. OKRA was a winner of Sanofi’s 2018 VivaTech Awards, an annual series of awards where Sanofi collaborates with start-ups to develop healthcare solutions.
Healthcare technology provides the opportunity to advance levels of maternal and women’s healthcare, so we encourage all startups around the world to apply.