EIT Health announces challenge focused on women's health, digital therapeutics

As part of the program two startups will each get €2 million ($2.22 million) in funding.
By Laura Lovett
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This year EIT Health, an EU-backed healthcare collaboration network, announced that its 2020 Wild Card Health Challenge will be focused on women’s health and digital therapeutics. 

First launched in 2017, the program offers European companies a way to connect with various healthcare stakeholders. The winner of each of the categories will receive €2 ($2.22) million in funding.  

Companies competing in the Women’s Health category are asked to consider reproductive health, woman-dominant conditions and the general health of women. Digital therapeutic startups are asked to consider preventative care, diagnosis and prescription technology, new therapeutic solutions and care management. 

Innovators will need to meet four main requirements including fitting into the EU's healthcare models, demonstrating value, showing an impact in solving an unmet need, and being a useable and inclusive solution. 

WHY IT MATTERS 

There has long been a gender disparity among studies and innovations for women’s health. 

“Addressing women’s healthcare is vital. A historical female underrepresentation in research has led to women’s health issues being overlooked or underserved,” Jorge Fernández García, EIT health director of innovation, said in a statement. “In Europe, it’s estimated that women spend almost 12 years of their life in ill health, they are more likely to develop adverse reactions to medication, and cardiovascular disease, traditionally considered as a threat to men, is the greatest mortality risk for women in Europe alongside cancer. Women’s health is rich territory for Europe’s health innovators, we look forward to supporting breakthroughs that can make a real impact here.”

THE LARGER TREND 

Both women’s health products and digital therapeutics are rapidly emerging onto the digital health market. In fact, according to a Rock Health report funding for Femtech companies has increased by 812% from 2014 to 2018. 

Digital therapeutics are also gaining traction. Big names in the industry include Pear Therapeutics, Akili Interactive Labs and WellDoc. But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Recently a slew of digital therapeutic companies have split ways with their pharma partners. However, industry players have said these recent hiccups don’t indicate the end for the technologies.