Silicon Valley Bank, A Division of First Citizens Bank

Sponsored Content | Brand Spotlight Partner What's This?

Undervalued No More: Women's Health Startups See Funding Surge Over 300%, New Report Reveals We're in a watershed moment for innovation around women's health.


In the field of healthcare, one sector is experiencing a seismic shift: women's health. This burgeoning sector has the potential to transform today's healthcare system while addressing longstanding disparities that have long plagued women. Momentum to solve systemic issues is building with entrepreneurs and investors pouring resources into innovative solutions to address the unique needs of women at every stage of life. At the same time, there is a movement to tackle the inequality and bias in research and funding.

In its new report on innovation in women's health, Silicon Valley Bank, a division of First Citizens Bank, reveals an optimistic picture for the sector. According to SVB's proprietary data, venture capital (VC) investment in women's health startups has skyrocketed by 314% in the past five years, compared to a 28% increase in overall healthcare investments. Lead authors of this report, Jackie Spencer and Raysa Bousleiman, attribute the dramatic increase in VC investment to several key factors.

First and foremost is the growing recognition of gender disparities within the healthcare system.

Inequalities in healthcare delivery and research.

Women are no strangers to having their health concerns overlooked or marginalized.

More than one in three women say a doctor either did not believe them, assumed something about them without asking, or blamed them for a health problem.

Mounting evidence shows that bias in healthcare disproportionately impacts outcomes for women, often leading to delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, or undertreatment. The inequality and bias pervades deeper than the healthcare experience into the science itself. Women are underrepresented across all steps of the R&D continuum, from data collection to clinical trials to outcome measurement. Diseases impacting women receive significantly less federal research funding than diseases impacting men (of the same burden).

This greater realization of the unmet health needs of women is driving investment and research and caught the attention of legislators. In November 2023, the Biden administration announced the first-ever Women's Health Research Initiative, a partnership between academics, doctors, patient-advocates, and policymakers to recommend concrete steps for improvement in women's health research and funding.

For healthcare innovators and investors, this momentum around women's health research and funding presents an opportunity to develop groundbreaking solutions, bring new technologies to market, and help make a meaningful impact.

Unstoppable momentum.

Women make up more than 50% of the U.S. population, and working-age women in the U.S. collectively spend about $15 billion more than men on out-of-pocket healthcare costs per year, partly because of pregnancy and delivery costs, but also because women seek more treatment than men.

And investors are also taking note of the massive market opportunity.

SVB data shows that even though women's health saw a 12% drop in deal activity in 2023 compared to 2022 (as is with most other VC-backed sectors), investment dollars were up 8% relative to the first three quarters of 2022. At the time of the report's release, 2023 was on pace to be the third best funding year on record for the space.

SVB expects deal counts and dollars to accelerate as the sector matures, research grows, and investors continue to recognize the potential of this market.

Expansion beyond reproductive health.

Investors and companies are challenging the misconception that women's health is restricted to reproductive years and realizing the enormous opportunity to meet women's health needs throughout their lives. Investments are increasingly shifting into emerging areas that address a multitude of underserved needs for women and individuals assigned female at birth. Examples include menopause, pelvic health, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, endometriosis, and mental health concerns such as postpartum depression and anxiety.

2023 saw record investment into non-reproduction companies, with $435 million invested in Q3 2023 alone, a single-quarter record, according to SVB's report. By addressing these diverse needs, startups are catering to women's holistic health and wellness, beyond just reproduction.

Key areas for entrepreneurial innovation and attention.

According to the report, several areas within women's health are particularly promising for entrepreneurial innovation and attention. These include:

  • Life sciences: As clinical trials move forward and more data becomes available, the clinical development of diagnostics, devices, and therapeutics to address women's health issues will progress.
  • Digital therapeutics: With the rise of telemedicine and remote monitoring, there is growing interest in digital therapeutics for conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), postpartum depression, and pelvic floor disorders.
  • Precision medicine: Tailoring treatments and interventions to individual genetic profiles and biomarkers holds immense potential for improving outcomes in areas such as breast cancer treatment and hormone replacement therapy.
  • Reproductive healthtech: Startups focusing on fertility tracking, contraception management, and reproductive planning are garnering significant attention from investors.

Looking forward.

The future of women's health is brimming with possibilities. As research expands, awareness rises and investments pour in, entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to drive innovation, develop solutions to address real needs, and be part of building a healthcare system that can improve the lives of millions of women worldwide.

Click here to download a copy of SVB's Innovation in Women's Health Report 2023.

This material, including without limitation to the statistical information herein, is provided for informational purposes only. The material is based in part on information from third-party sources that we believe to be reliable but which has not been independently verified by us, and, as such, we do not represent the information is accurate or complete. The information should not be viewed as tax, accounting, investment, legal or other advice, nor is it to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. You should obtain relevant and specific professional advice before making any investment decision. Nothing relating to the material should be construed as a solicitation, offer or recommendation to acquire or dispose of any investment, or to engage in any other transaction.

All non-SVB named companies listed throughout this document, as represented with the various statistical, thoughts, analysis and insights shared in this document, are independent third parties and are not affiliated with Silicon Valley Bank or First Citizens Bank & Trust Company. All third-party trademarks, logos, and brand names are the property of their respective owners and are herein used for informational purposes only. Any predictions are based on subjective assessments and assumptions. Accordingly, any predictions, projections or analysis should not be viewed as factual and should not be relied upon as an accurate prediction of future results.

©2024 First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company. All Rights Reserved. Silicon Valley Bank, a division of First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company. Member FDIC. 3003 Tasman Drive, Santa Clara, CA 95054