In 2023, a groundbreaking announcement from the White House marked a pivotal moment for women’s health: launching the first-ever Initiative on Women’s Health Research. This historic move aims to rally support from the federal government and the broader public and private sectors, focusing on funding, innovation, research expansion, and the overall enhancement of women’s health care.
This initiative isn’t an isolated event but part of a broader trend where women’s health is finally gaining the attention and resources it has long deserved. Over the past year, we’ve witnessed women’s health startups enjoying larger average deal sizes and a growing share of healthcare venture capital, signaling a potential turning point for the industry in 2024.
Despite a challenging venture capital landscape in 2023, where the frequency and value of deals declined, women’s health companies bucked the trend by securing more significant investments per deal. With $1.14 billion raised across 120 deals, the sector saw an encouraging increase in average deal size to $10.4 million, suggesting a robust confidence in the value and potential of women’s health ventures.
The significance of these investments goes beyond mere numbers. They reflect a growing recognition of the critical need for focused innovation and support in women’s health, a field historically marginalized in the broader healthcare and investment ecosystems. The increasing allocation of venture capital towards women’s health, albeit a tiny fraction at 4.3% of total healthcare investments, marks a positive trajectory, evidencing the sector’s emerging prominence and the broader market’s acknowledgment of its untapped potential.
Government policies and legislative efforts further amplify this momentum. The introduction of the Menopause Research and Equity Act and the potential passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act underscore a legislative push towards addressing and prioritizing women’s health issues. These initiatives, coupled with the societal and political mobilization around reproductive rights following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, highlight a renewed focus on women’s health rights and access to care.
The rise of women’s health unicorns, startups valued at over $1 billion, illustrates the sector’s growing economic and social significance. Companies like Kindbody, Maven, and Tia have shattered fundraising records, showcasing the viability and attractiveness of women-focused health solutions. These successes challenge the prevailing narrative around the value of women’s health ventures, proving that they are not niche interests but critical components of a comprehensive healthcare ecosystem.
Leadership in women’s health is also evolving, with female founders and CEOs at the forefront of this transformation. Despite historical funding disparities, women-led companies are now securing more significant investments, indicating a shift towards greater gender equity in entrepreneurship and recognizing the unique perspectives and innovations women bring to the table.
As we look towards 2024, the confluence of increased funding, supportive government policies, and the rise of influential women leaders in the sector indicates unprecedented opportunity and growth for women’s health. These developments not only forecast a brighter future for women’s healthcare but also signify a broader societal shift towards inclusivity, equity, and the recognition of women’s health as a critical, non-negotiable aspect of global healthcare.