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Championing Women’s Health and Equity

At Radical Health Festival Helsinki, Sr Innovation Manager, Anastasiya Markvarde, moderated a women-led panel on Closing the Funding Gaps. In this piece, we’re sharing Anastasiya’s takeaways from the session, steering the conversation toward twocritical gaps: the funding of women entrepreneurs and the state of women’s health.

What’s the current state funding for women-led startups?  

Let’s start with some numbers. Women-founded startups accounted for 2% or less of venture capital (VC) funding invested in Europe and the United States in 2023.1 Women make up approximately 11% of investing partners at VC firms in the US and 9% in Europe. The gap is huge, despite the fact that women-led companies yield better returns on investment (ROI), generating 35% higher ROI than men-led companies. And VCs with higher female representation outperform men-only teams by 9.3 percentage points.2,3 

How do these statistics affect the gap with women’s health outcomes? Let’s take a study from April 2024 that concluded that women are less likely to die or be readmitted to the hospital when they are treated by female doctors, compared to male doctors.4 Most certainly, this example could be extrapolated to the overall state of women’s health: to improve access to care and health outcomes for women, we need more women doctors and women entrepreneurs to make decisions in the industry and develop healthcare solutions. 

Women are less likely to die or be readmitted to the hospital when they are treated by female doctors

It’s also important to underline how the funding and health gaps for women are interconnected. Until the 1930s women were considered to be ‘sick’ 1 week out of 4 and therefore unable to perform, and consequently, underpaid.5 Demystifying women’s health myths put us on the path to equal work pay. In the same way, not having enough women in healthcare led to a significant gap in research and care for women. Just one of the many examples: 40M women are facing long-term labor and childbirth consequences and while many of those situations may have been preventable , the literature review of the last 12 years shows no high-quality guidelines on 40% of the 32 priority conditions.6 

Upon seeing these numbers, one starts immediately wondering about what we can do together as an industry to address these gaps. First, Anastasiya notes that even though the situation remains extremely unbalanced, some positive trends are emerging.

If we take Europe, the share of VC investment raised by women on the continent has doubled in the last 10 years, and the number of women-founded unicorns has increased by 10 times.7

From her perspective, the industry needs to focus on two points to promote the growth of women representation in the VC world as well as in the healthcare industry: 

  • Driving awareness: many people, even within the healthcare industry, are largely unaware of both gaps, however, they are eager to help when they learn about the status quo. Right before the panel at Radical Health, Anastasiya was approached by a person from the audience who thanked her for the women’s health-focused articles she regularly shares; now that he has learned about the gaps, he is now willing to take action. 
  • Innovation on the level of research and business support models: isolated women health research support initiatives are not enough because research outcomes need to be commercialized. Public funding initiatives alone are not enough as industry expertise on how to allocate investments is crucial. Acceleration programs need support from VCs and healthcare providers to scale the solutions. Hence, to deliver results, we need to innovate even on the level of models and create blended collaborations in the ecosystem that will bring together the necessary expertise, funding, experience in the industry and capacity to deliver. 

At EVERSANA, we are dedicated to creating a healthier world for all, and a big part of this is ensuring we strive for the best health outcomes for all patients, regardless of gender. By fostering innovation, raising awareness, and promoting equitable opportunities, we strive to create a healthcare ecosystem where everyone can thrive.  

  5. Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn 
Anastasiya Markvarde​
Sr Innovation Manager

Anastasiya has extensive international background in open innovation and startup ecosystem development, having worked as COO of a big European startup hub with the offices in Spain and Baltics. ​ As part of legacy…