Silicon Valley Bank Reports Increase in Women’s Health Investments

SAN FRANCISCO — Despite ongoing economic headwinds and a pressured venture fundraising environment, investment in startup companies addressing women’s health is on the rise. According to a recent report from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), a division of First Citizens Bank, investment in women’s health companies increased 314% since 2018, while overall investment for the health sector increased 28%.

SVB’s Innovation in Women’s Health Report examines fundraising and investment activity as well as capital and valuation trends across the sector. The report defines women’s health as healthtech, biopharma, diagnostics/tools, and medical device companies that address underserved care needs for women. This includes conditions that uniquely impact women, conditions that differently or disproportionately impact women, and conditions that are marked by gender-based discrepancies in care.

“Despite broader challenges in the larger venture capital landscape, women’s health is showing significant momentum and progress,” said Raysa Bousleiman, co-author of the SVB Innovation in Women’s Health report and VP of Venture Capital Relationship Management for Life Science and Healthcare at SVB. “Investors and companies are challenging the misconception that women’s health is restricted to reproductive years and realizing the tremendous opportunity to address the complete spectrum of health needs throughout a woman’s life. Investments are increasingly shifting into emerging areas such as menopause, pelvic health and mental health.”

Along with other startups, women’s health companies saw valuations drop in 2023. Women’s health companies are typically valued lower than healthcare companies overall, with seed stage women’s health companies consistently valued 20% lower than overall healthcare companies at the seed stage, according to the data. One reason for the lower valuations could be lack of data collection on women’s health conditions, SVB reported.

“The lack of data on women’s health can be a roadblock for founders when convincing investors there is a need for their company, for accurately estimating market size and for receiving FDA approval,” said Bousleiman. “However, valuations could increase as investors are encouraged by efforts such as the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, which aims to close the research gaps in the sector. 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.”

Key Report Findings: Innovation and Investment in Women’s Health

  • With a 314% increase in women’s health venture capital investment since 2018, 2023 will rank as a top funding year for the sector
  • Investments in non-reproduction startups reached $435 million in Q3 2023, indicating a shift in the long-held misconception that fertility and pregnancy are the sole focus of women’s health
  • Averaging $182M investment per quarter, biopharma surpassed healthtech as the top funded women’s health subsector in 2023
  • 76% of women’s health companies have a female founder which is three times higher than companies across the overall innovation ecosystem

Delivering relevant insights on the current and future state of the Healthcare market, SVB will next release its 2024 Healthcare Exits and Investments report on January 17th, 2024. This annual report analyzes trends for venture capital investing, fundraising, M&A activity and IPOs for biopharma, medical device, diagnostics and tools, and healthtech sectors in the US and Europe. Early data indicates US investors raised $19B for new health-focused VC and growth funds in 2023, the third highest amount for any year.