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Fem-tech, AI in mental health on investor radar next year – Industry News

Health-tech startups, which are catering to women’s healthcare needs or integrating artificial intelligence in digital mental health services, are likely to be in focus for investors next year, said Nihar Parikh, founder of venture capital firm 4point0 Health Ventures.

The fem-tech segment has seen substantial growth so far and is expected to be a $60 billion industry in the next four years from $18 billion in 2019, he said. Fem-tech startups usually provide services related to menstruation, PCOS, fertility, and breast cancer detection, among others.

Startups in the sector include Niramai, which offers breast cancer screening solution, Gynoveda, which caters to menstruation-related issues, Allara, which provides PCOS treatment and med-tech startup Inito that sells at-home fertility monitors.

Recently, Bengaluru-based Inito raised $6 million in a series A funding round led by Fireside Ventures. The company plans to expand its hormone test in international markets and invest further in research and development.

Besides Fem-tech, investors will also focus on platforms that are integrating AI in digital mental health services. Using AI-based tools reduces costs of mental health services, while improving its access to users and ensuring confidentiality.

Parikh noted that India has a lack of registered mental health practitioners, with only 0.75 psychiatrists per 100,000 population. “By predicting instances of non-compliance, AI can gently remind individuals to stay on track with their treatment plans, helping to address patient non-adherence, which is currently a major challenge for healthcare providers,” he said. One such example is US-based Wysa, which houses an AI-enabled coach.

Much in line with the broader funding scenario, health-tech startups also saw a significant decline in funding this year. Industry data showed that startup funding in the first half of this year slumped by 72%, much in line with other geographies.

Despite the slump, this year companies focused on introduding AI into healthcare services, that allowed platforms to provide tailored treatment plans, detect early-stage cancers, automate and streamline billing processes, and execute AI-assisted robotic surgery, among others.

Besides this, domestic manufacturing of medical devices also saw a surge this year, encouraged by the government’s incentives and new schemes in this sector, Parikh said. Startups providing health insurance also saw a surge this year.

Through 4point0, he has so far invested in six health-tech startups including Kenko Health, Fitterfly, and men’s wellness platform Bold Care.

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