A virtual panel event with speakers from Takeda Digital Ventures, 3Daughters, and BioSens8.
We’ve summarized key questions from our panel discussion. Click the links to go directly to the video responses in the YouTube video.
Janine Kopp, Investor & Venture Studio Lead, Takeda Digital Ventures (TDV)
Janine is an innovator at heart with a background in Pharmaceutical Sciences from ETH Zurich. She started her career at Takeda Oncology before becoming a founder of a Women’s Health company, and now an Investor with TDV (Takeda Digital Ventures), the Virtual First Care Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) group of Takeda. Knowing about the complexity of healthcare, Janine strives to bring better care to people across the globe.
Uros Kuzmanovic, CEO & Co-Founder, BioSens8
Uros is the CEO and Co-Founder of BioSens8 Inc., which mines microbes using its platform technology to engineer novel, market-specific biosensors. Although there are far reaching uses, their first focus is to commercialize a progesterone biosensor in order to help women assess their fertility, pregnancy, perinatal health, and menopausal state. The ultimate goal of BioSens8 is to provide the user continuous insight into their body’s state by measuring important molecules continuously, quantitatively, and in real-time. This work is being spun out from Uros’ PhD work at Boston University.
Mary Beth Cicero, CEO & Co-Founder, 3Daughters
Mary Beth is CEO and Co-Founder of 3Daughters, a startup Women’s Healthcare Company with a newly designed intrauterine device (IUD) with a unique frameless uterine delivery system that addresses the “fear factor” and pain of the outdated T-shape of current IUDs. She has extensive experience in Women’s Healthcare and has spent the greater part of her career working in contraception, fertility, and other disease states affecting women. Mary Beth was formerly President of MarketSense Ltd., a consulting firm specializing in healthcare, and prior to that had over thirty years of experience with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including Serono Labs and Rhone Poulenc Rorer.
Moderated by: Thom Busby
Q: One topic that has seen traction recently is the lack of venture funding in Women’s Health. In FY 2021 women accounted for only 2.3% of all venture-backed funding across industries, I’m curious what impact you see that having on women’s health in terms of funding and what the cause of that is. Go to minute 11:35.
Q: Mary Beth, as a female founder and as someone concentrating on raising venture capital, what is your experience in the market? Go to minute 14:12.
Q: Mary Beth, you mention we can’t be minimally innovative, we really need a game changer. What do we mean by a game changer as opposed to a step in the right direction? Go to minute 17:53.
Q: Janine, at 2.3% females being funded, do you see more venture capitalists saying we need to make an effort to fund more diverse CEOs and founding teams, or do you see it as a lot of talk? Go To minute 19:00.
Q: Uros, I understand that you recently won a local award for your platform biosensor company – could you tell us about your technology and what areas of women’s health you’re targeting and what led you there. Go to minute 20:10.
Q: Uros, what prompted you to focus on progesterone as the first area to go after? Go to minute 22:10.
Q: Women’s health isn’t different in that you need to take a market driven approach – where are the gaps, where are the holes, where are the opportunities – as opposed to trying to force a technology on a market. I have to imagine, Janine, that when you’re evaluating an opportunity, it’s first having confidence that there is a marketplace that would be receptive and second if it’s the right technology. How does that mindset get deployed when you look into new investments? Go to minute 25:55.
Q: Mary Beth, I’ve heard you talk about the lack of adoption and the lack of innovation in women’s health technology. You shared that there is a lack of knowledge, a lack of technology, and a lack of access which is really hampering growth in women’s health. Could you unpack where are the knowledge gaps, the technology gaps and the access gaps? Go to minute 26:07.
Q: Mary Beth & Uros, as the two CEOs on the panel, I’m interested in what exercises you went through to validate that there’s a market demand and need for new technology? Go to minute 36:27.
Q: Mary Beth & Janine, for entrepreneurs – what exercises would you encourage them going through to validate market demand and make sure that there is going to be a customer, a patient, a client at the end of the road? Go to minute 40:03.
Q: Janine, you touched on a similar trend that we see in both life sciences and healthcare – are we talking to a patient or are we talking to a consumer? The role of wellness health is changing some of our norms – we see some companies trying to displace the position, others that are trying to embrace the position. What do you see as the role of consumer health and wellness playing in women’s health and is this a good trend for us to follow? Go to minute 47:03.
Q: Uros, Mary Beth – anything to add on the consumerization of healthcare? Go to minute: 49:02.
Q: Janine, when it comes to speaking with investors and venture capitalists, whether it’s an institutional investor or corporate VC, what’s the best way to initiate that dialogue? Go to minute: 52:37.
Q: Mary Beth, you talked about understanding the voice of the customer. What would you say to the entrepreneur who says that the customer doesn’t understand they have a problem? Go to minute 54:17.
Q: Unpacking digital health, we see a variety of software platforms, devices, drugs, and other permutations of digital technology – are there specific technologies that you see best fit for women’s health? Go to minute: 55:38.
Q: While there is much progress to be made in women’s health, according to a recent McKinsey report, women’s health funding has risen from next to nothing in 2008 to almost $2.5 billion at the close of 2021. While it seems that we’re running on a nice trajectory, what do you think could be one of the greatest hurdles for women’s health to advance? Go to minute 58:20.