By: Ksenia Tugay PhD, Strategic Innovation Expert at Groupe Mutuel
On the 8th of March 2021 Groupe Mutuel, a leading Swiss Health Insurance, has joined forces with EPFL Innovation Park to create first FemTech Hub in continental Europe.
The EPFL Innovation Park supports disruptive innovations and the transfer of technologies of the EPFL and other regional academic partners. It provides flexible office space, training, acceleration and coaching services to 250 high-tech companies: start-ups, SMEs and R&D centres of large companies. Together with its partners and a dynamic community of venture capital firms, experts and service providers, the Innovation Park is positioned as the main pole of entrepreneurship in Western Switzerland.
Therefore when Groupe Mutuel was looking for a partner to launch a FemTech accelerator in Switzerland, EPFL IP was an obvious candidate.
International early (MVP or even ideation stage) and growth stage FemTech startups can join a 9-month equity free acceleration program and receive mentorship from experienced business coaches, industry experts (Merck, Ferring, Annecova, Ava Women, Philips) and participate in tailored workshops. Whereas only up to 30 startups are selected for the program each year, Tech4Eva offers many events that are open to community such as Virtual International Roadshows dedicated to the discovery of different markets (Japan, US, UK, Switzerland). The startups also get opportunity to connect to different international ecosystems and meet FemTech investors.
In 2021Groupe Mutuel has put strong emphasis on women’s health. The company is actively innovating in the areas of new products and services for women. Groupe Mutuel has also launched some internal initiatives dedicated to promoting FemTech among all the employees of Groupe Mutuel.
For example, startups from Tech4Eva acceleration program have an opportunity to present their solution during monthly webinars in French or German to all employees of Groupe Mutuel.
Whereas FemTech might be a new area for Groupe Mutuel, the company has been active in women’s health for years now. For instance, Groupe Mutuel is the only Swiss Health Insurance that has a specific service for the female employees of their corporate clients. Dedicated midwives can accompany the pregnant employees of our corporate clients and help them adjust their working environemnt in accordance to Swiss law consequently decreasing physical and psychological stress factors. This service exists for the past 6 years and Groupe Mutuel takes on over 600 new cases per year.
Whereas FemTech is clearly starting to gain momentum in Switzerland, there are still many obstacles for FemTech ventures here. Taboos, lack of female decision makers in healthcare sector, lack of female researchers, leaders and investors. However, things are starting to change thanks to such initiatives as Tech4Eva and ETHZ FemTech summit. But is important to keep in mind that we can only advance progress in the area of FemTech by bringing together all the stakeholders: Payers, Providers, Academia, Startups, Investors and Ecosystem partners. Only cooperation and collaboration can advance research and innovation in women’s health.