Infertility is a fairly common problem in the US. The CDC reports that about 10 in every 100 women in the country has difficulty becoming or staying pregnant.
This has given rise to the emerging ‘FemTech’ industry, and in particular fertility tech, digital products designed to support individuals looking to get pregnant. Recently, venture capital firm Octopus released a report outlining the opportunity for the industry – noting that fertility-focused startups have scored $2.2 billion in investments between 2014 and 2019.
“The trend is clear to see. As fertility rates continue to decline, demand for fertility treatments will continue to rise, but not everyone who wants treatment can access it,” Kamran Adle, early-stage investor in the Future of Health team at Octopus Ventures, said in a statement. “That’s where we see the big opportunity in the coming years, with new technologies and services enabling new treatments that are cheaper and more scalable. Ultimately, this presents a huge opportunity to transform patient outcomes and should make having a baby much more accessible to all.”
The report finds that the average deal size for fertility startups is rising from $4.1 million in 2014 to $7.73 million in 2019. While these industries are trending upward – researchers at the firm noted that the investments in the field have remained relatively low compared to other health focuses like telemedicine, cannabis tech and medical records.
“Significant scientific and technological advances mean this is now starting to change, and there are some talented entrepreneurs building very exciting startups in the space. We believe many of them have the potential to radically disrupt the industry, and backing from VCs will be crucial to driving this change.”
WHY IT MATTERS
As individuals wait longer to get pregnant infertility has also increased. According to the CDC, about 20% of women have their first child after the age of 35, and about one in three of those couples have fertility problems. Other factors, including smoking, weight gain or loss, and stress, are associated with the decline in female fertility.
Common conditions, including polycystic ovaries and endometriosis, can also increase a woman’s risk of infertility.
THE LARGER TREND
Digital fertility tools are on the rise. Just last week the U.S. Air Force inked a deal with MFB Fertility to provide military members and their partners home fertility tests. Their tool, called Proov, landed FDA clearance in March for at-home ovulation testing.
Additionally, in 2018, London-based Concepta Diagnostics released its myLotus Fertility app and monitoring system, which lets women who are trying to conceive test their hormone levels at home. It includes a product and app that use luteinizing hormone (LH) levels to help predict when a woman has the best chance to become pregnant. Higher levels indicate ovulation.
But it isn’t just men’s health that is getting investor attention. In February Legacy, a male fertility startup offering sperm freezing and analytics, raised $3.5 million in new funding with participation from Section 32, Y Combinator and Bain Capital ventures. Dadi is another male-focused fertility startup. It scored $5 million in August.