By Dana Jacoby
Bridging the Gender Gap in Health Startups
Healthcare focused accelerator funds are increasingly becoming a crucial source of support for female entrepreneurs. These funding initiatives not only provide capital but also mentorship, resources, and networking opportunities.
Here, we explore how an accelerator fund can facilitate women’s entry and success in the healthcare sector.
What Are Accelerator Funds?
An accelerator fund aims to propel the growth of early-stage startups by providing them with capital, mentorship, resources, and networking opportunities. Within medicine, these funds have particular significance — healthcare startups typically require substantial investment, face stringent regulatory scrutiny, and need specialized knowledge to succeed.
Understanding the Funding Gender Gap
In the startup realm, a significant gender funding gap persists. In 2020, only 2.3% of total venture capital funding was allocated to female-led startups. This disparity is not quite as severe in healthcare, however, it is still far from equal. The female-owned share of digital health funding was 13.26% in 2022, compared to 8.75% in 2021 — progress is being made, but unfortunately, at a slow rate.
The Role of an Accelerator Fund in Supporting Female Entrepreneurs in Medicine
In the face of gender disparities in startup funding, healthcare focused accelerator funding is stepping up to bridge the gap for female entrepreneurs. These programs are designed to address systemic barriers faced by women, providing not only capital but also critical networking opportunities, mentorship, and industry insights.
RAPP, a creative agency, has launched an accelerator program called Series R. With a focus on women’s health startups, the program provides mentorship, guidance on branding, and assistance in communicating scientific concepts to the public.
Whilst there are no specific gender requirements, >70% of femtech companies are female-owned. This initiative amplifies women’s health startups’ voices, allowing them to connect with their audience effectively.
DigitalHealth.London is another accelerator program, which offers a tailored approach to assisting healthcare startups in navigating the UK’s NHS and wider healthcare system.
AIM-HI Women’s Competition
The AIM-HI Accelerator Fund has launched a venture competition exclusively for women entrepreneurs leading early-stage, cancer-focused companies. Winners receive up to $1 million in equity investment from AIM-HI and its co-investors, alongside mentorship, team building, and networking opportunities.
Participants get matched with industry mentors and have access to a global network of innovators, investors, and influencers.
Through these initiatives, accelerator funds are addressing the gender funding gap and playing a pivotal role in the growth of female-led enterprises.
Case Study: Elvie
Elvie, a leading femtech health firm, benefited from attending three accelerator programs, including Tech Nation’s Upscale and Future Fifty. These contributed to its growth trajectory, augmenting its impressive £108m equity investment.
The networking, mentorship, and industry insights gained through these accelerators enabled Elvie to be recognized on four high-growth lists in 2021 alone, underscoring the brand’s success.
Why It Matters
Accelerator funds focused on female entrepreneurs are shaping a more diverse and inclusive healthcare industry.
Their impact extends beyond the individual businesses they support, influencing the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem, healthcare landscape, and societal perceptions about women in leadership.