Non-profit Women Who Tech, which funds and showcases female innovators have opened applications for the European leg of its global startup challenge.
Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the Office of the Mayor of Paris and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the competition will select 10 early-stage startups developing health tech solutions to compete for the grant.
Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech, said: “Right now health tech is booming. By 2040, it’s estimated that $25 trillion will be spent annually on healthcare–a 150% increase since 2014. Yet, only 9.7% of investor funding goes to women-led health tech startups.
“We launched the Women Startup Challenge Europe HealthTech to showcase and fund women-led health tech startups that have been ignored for far too long and to help unlock the innovation in the health tech sector by putting diversity, equity, and inclusion front and centre.
“We will never find the solutions to the biggest healthcare problems facing this world without diverse perspectives leading products.”
The successful candidates will be chosen by a judging panel comprised of investors and global health leaders such as Elena Fernandez-Kleinlein, head of JLABS Europe; Jean-Louis Missika, deputy mayor of Paris; and Eamonn Carey, managing director of TechStars London.
Eligible startups can be based in either Europe or the U.S. but must have at least one woman founder as well as a presence in Europe. Applications close on August 1, with the winner set to be announced on October 7 at Paris City Hall, Hôtel de Ville.
As part of the competition, Women Who Tech said it will deploy capital, resources and mentoring to health tech startups that are “working to improve lives and champion greater healthcare access by disrupting consumer health and wellness.”
One previous winner is Kiah Williams, who developed an online platform that connects surplus drugs with safety-net clinics.
“Since we took part we’ve attracted additional funding, expanded the team and increased our product offering,” said Kiah, co-founder of SIRUM.
“We went from a peer-to-peer marketplace and vertically integrated our software and service. We went from a Match.com to an Amazon for unused medicine, building tech to track medicine donation straight through.
“Programmes like the Women Startup Challenge is an important validator, especially early on to get introduced to potential investors, mentors and, unintuitively, potential future teammates.”
JLABS interim head Elena Fernandez-Kleinlein, who will be judging the 2019 competition, added: “We deeply believe in the strength of community and diversity to empower innovation all over the world.
“I have a strong personal commitment to these values, and I’m keen to support women in the life sciences at all levels, whether it’s the scientist on the bench, the entrepreneur or the investor.
“I know from my personal career experience how hard it is for women to break through in this still male-dominated space. That is why supporting the Women Who Tech initiative is so important. I am convinced it will help to drive change and lead to stronger innovation and outcomes in health care.”