First of its kind fund dedicated solely to FemTech is launched by female-led firm
Portfolia Funds, innovative venture investing platform, just announced the launch of its sixth fund. The Portfolia FemTech Fund will invest exclusively in emerging technologies, products and services focused on improving women’s health and wellness.
Frost and Sullivan recently published a report stating that FemTech will be a $50 billion market by 2025. Spurred on by rapid innovation in the health space, a positive regulatory environment and the fact that women now control 80% of healthcare decisions in the U.S. household, FemTech is predicted to be the next big disruptor in the global healthcare market. While the benefits of FemTech are widely recognized, the market is still at an early stage.
“It is our investment philosophy to focus on opportunities in high-growth potential segments that are unfulfilled by the traditional venture capital marketplace while being guided by some of the strongest experts in the industry,” says Portfolia Co-Founder and CEO Trish Costello. “For the first time ever, women have the majority of the wealth in the U.S., and are beginning to embrace their power as market makers. They are vocal in their intent to make investments that both have an impact and see returns – the FemTech Fund is a natural fit for this growing market.”
Portfolia Funds has brought on multiple expert investors to lead and advise the Femtech Fund, including: Dr. Mary Lake Polan, MD, PHD, MPH – Stanford University Retired Chair of Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Faz K. Bashi, MD – Retired Chair of Medical Device and Digital Health Screening Committees at Life Science Angels (LSA); Nola Masterson – Biotech Business Executive, Venture Capital Investor and Chair Emeritus at California Life Sciences Institute; and Darshana Zaveri – General Partner and member of Catalyst Health Venture’s investment committee. Portfolia’s FemTech Fund is the nation’s first fund dedicated solely to this nascent industry.
“Only 1.4% of healthcare investing by professional venture capitalists is put to work to find solutions in the women’s health space – or FemTech. 80% of healthcare VC’s have never invested in healthcare for women,” Masterson comments. “This underserved market enables Portfolia to access the best deals with very reasonable valuations. I’m excited about the quantity and caliber of companies that are coming across my desk.”
Portfolia is no stranger to investing in cutting-edge companies in the FemTech space. The venture investment group firm has most recently funded JoyLux, run by the former Clarisonic/Sonicare team, which has an innovative product suite to address bladder control and post-partum vaginal rejuvenation. Madorra, the first non-hormonal treatment to address vaginal dryness, and Sandstone Diagnostics, a fertility tracking company join JoyLux as promising Portfolia investments in the FemTech space.
Faz K. Bashi adds, “I’m thrilled to able to head up a fund focused on improving the health, wellness, and lives of women by bringing emerging women’s health solutions to market at a time when there is such market opportunity. Portfolia takes the diversification and management of more traditional venture and layers in more opportunities for education and engagement. I’m thrilled to be part of their mission to build an investment community of 100,000 women venture investors by 2022.”
Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce more funding for apprenticeships in England when he unveils his budget next week, the government said on Friday.
Employers taking part in the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme will from April 1 receive 3,000 pounds ($4,179) for each apprentice hired, regardless of age – an increase on current grants of between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds depending on age.
The scheme will extended by six months until the end of September, the finance ministry said.
Sunak will also announce an extra 126 million pounds for traineeships for up to 43,000 placements.
Sunak’s March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.
Sunak is also expected to announce a “flexi-job” apprenticeship scheme, whereby apprentices can join an agency and work for multiple employers in one sector, the finance ministry said.
“We know there’s more to do and it’s vital this continues throughout the next stage of our recovery, which is why I’m boosting support for these programmes, helping jobseekers and employers alike,” Sunak said in a statement.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)
UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.
Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.
“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.
“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”
Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.
He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.
“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.
Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.
“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of Stateâ€™s (Dowden’s) assertion that the governmentâ€™s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.
Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.
It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.
The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.
Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)
Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit
By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.
“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.
Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.
Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.
The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.
“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.
Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.
The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.
It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.
“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.
“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”
Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.
“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.
A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.
“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.
The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).
“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.
($1 = 0.7064 pounds)
(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)
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