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18 August 2023

FemTech patenting trends

In 2020, we explored the Future of Femtech. Since then, the industry has changed and expanded quickly. According to a recent McKinsey study, estimates for FemTech’s current market size range from $500 million to $1 billion and forecasts suggest opportunities for double-digit revenue growth. On the digital health front, FemTech companies currently receive 3 percent of all digital health funding. In some cases, FemTech companies are filling gaps not yet addressed by biopharma and device incumbents, such as in the area of maternal health. Yet this is clearly, and promisingly, only the beginning of what FemTech can address.

This article looks at five ground-breaking companies in the FemTech industry, all of whom have filed patent applications to protect their technology.

Next Gen Jane

NextGen Jane is a US based firm founded by Ridhi Tariyal and her business parter Stephen Gire after Tariyal discovered how difficult it was to access testing to learn more about her reproductive health. NextGen Jane aims to improve the provision of OB-GYN care and provide more accessible care through non-invasive at-home sample collection. Their idea is for women to be able to send menstrual blood samples to Next Gen Jane’s lab in order to test for the presence of cancer cells and STIs and provide information about endometrial health and fertility.

In the US, more than 2.2 million women of child-bearing age live in maternity care deserts with no acess to obstetric care. Therefore, by providing at-home sample collecting kits, the hope is that more women will be able to access the healthcare that they require in a way that is more convenient for them. They have filed a patent application (WO 2017/180909 A1) for their sample collection and preservation devices, which are designed to ensure that the samples arrive at their lab in an appropriate condition for testing.

Emm Technology LTD

The first usable menstrual cup was patented in 1937 (US2089113A) and in almost 100 years not much has changed, with the majority of menstrual cups available on the market today having a design based on the original. Emm was started in 2020 by founder Jenny Button with the aim of revolutionizing women’s health by helping women understand more about their menstrual health. They developed a custom fit menstrual cup fitted with biosensors that connect to their app to allow for automatic cycle tracking as well as detection of changes in patterns or irregularities in their cycle. In the future, they plan to develop the menstrual cup further so that it may be able to detect early signs of diabetes, measure cholesterol and provide information about fertility levels. Emm have filed for patent protection for their menstrual cup design (WO2022208081A1), which aims to allow for a custom fit for every user and can be inserted with an applicator to ensure proper insertion every time. The application also outlines how the sensor will be incorporated into the menstrual cup.

Metabolomic diagnostics

Metabolomic diagnostics is a deep-tech company looking to combine the capabilities of mass spectrometety and biomarkers with data analysis and modelling to help predict a woman’s risk of developing preeclampsia and the likelihood of pre-term birth caused by preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and after labour, it can be life-threatening if left untreated. By developing techniques for determining a woman’s risk of developing preeclampsia, it may be detected earlier and so appropriate monitoring and treatment may be provided to prevent further complications.

Metabolomic diagnostics have filed a patent application (WO 2019 155071 A1) for their model to predict the risk of an outcome, that can be used to predict the risk of developing preecalmpsia at an early stage of pregnancy. They have also filed a patent application (WO2019155075A1) relating to their methods of predicting pre-term birth caused by preeclamspia using metabolic and protein biomarkers.

Elvie

Elvie was founded in 2013 by Tania Boler, a women’s health expert who is passionate about improving women’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Boler founded Elvie with the aim of creating technology to address issues faced by women throughout their lives that are often neglected. Elvie is most famous for its hands-free breast pump technology which is designed to be worn inside a bra and pauses when it determines that the bottle is full so that the wearer doesn’t have to continuously check themselves. Their breast pumps aim to provide women with more freedom to go about their day to day lives, whilst also being discreet. They can be connected to an app to help monitor milk volumes as well as keep track of pumping history. Elvie have filed a patent application relating to their breast pump technology, which you can read about here WO2021084283A1.

Oura

Wearable technology has become increasingly popular over the last decade with the wearable technology market expected to increase to a value of $156bn by 2024 from $59bn in 2020. Oura have developed a smart ring that can track your heart rate and other body measurements using the sensors in the ring. Whilst period tracking apps have been around for a number of years, many rely on analysing data from previous cycles or on user input to predict when a woman will start their period. It is known that tracking body temperature, which fluctuates due to hormones throughout the month, can be used to aid in the prediction; however, many apps currently rely on the user manually taking their temperature at a set point every day. Oura have developed a more accurate method that relies on continuously tracking changes in your body temperature with their smart ring. Their technology can also be helpful for determining ovulation. Oura have filed a patent application for their methods of predicting menstrual cycle onset using temperature data, which can be found here US 2023061823 A1.

The future

These are great examples of FemTech companies using patents to their advantage and we love to see the fast-paced innovation in this area. We are looking forward to seeing the future growth of FemTech and assisting with developing patent portfolios in this space.

If you would like more information about patenting FemTech solutions, please contact Hannah Auger, Jessica Wilkinson or your usual Venner Shipley advisor.