Getting the people right is as important for a start-up as having a sound idea and women's digital health company, identifyHer, has lined up a founding team with extensive experience in data analysis, disease prevention, sensor development, AI and women's health to develop a wearable tracker that can help manage life-disrupting menopausal symptoms.
"Right now, 7.3 million women are going through menopause in Ireland and the UK and 3.7 million of them are suffering symptoms that negatively affect their lives," says identifyHer co-founder Heidi Davis. "Treating the menopause relies on the symptom profile but there are currently no objective ways to quantify or track symptom frequency or severity.
“identifyHer is using AI-enabled technology to personalise the management of menopausal symptoms and reduce the risk of disease in the future.
“What is largely unknown is that the severity and frequency of vasomotor symptoms alone can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.”
Davis adds that self-reporting is not accurate at capturing how often a woman experiences a particular symptom, such as a hot flush, or how bad it is. “Our tracker can provide the information women and clinicians need to personalise the management of their symptoms,” she says.
“We want women suffering with symptoms to be able to navigate the menopause with improved quality of life.”
The idea for the tracker came out of a general interest in disease prevention before the founders decided to focus on unmet needs in women's health, starting with menopause. Prior to setting up identifyHer, Davis, whose background is in molecular medicine, was working in the field of peptide discovery using AI.
The identifyHer tracker, which can be used from perimenopause onwards, sits under the breast and is activated by an app. The wearer goes about their business as normal and they will get daily, weekly, and monthly reports on their menopausal symptoms and lifestyle data.
The woman will wear the sensor for three months to track her symptoms and the data collected during that time will be used to initiate treatment or to evaluate whether the treatment she is already on is working.
“This data essentially provides a profile of each woman that can then be used to track menopausal progression and activate an individual symptom management plan,” Davis says.
The trackers will be supplied by the woman’s GP or menopause clinic and the revenue model will be SaaS. However, the pricing structure is still a work in progress as the device is not due for launch until the third quarter of 2023.
identifyHer was formally established in October 2022 and now employs four people. To date, about €55,000 has been invested in the business which has been primarily self-funded while Davis is also quick to acknowledge the help given to the fledgling business by Analog Devices.
“Their support has enabled us to get a prototype for initial data collection up and running at very low cost based on future sales potential,” she says.
Davis has recently completed the New Frontiers programme at TU Blanchardstown and is now pushing ahead with a major fundraising drive. The company has been approved for Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Funding and it is currently raising a pre-seed round of €700,000.
Ultimately, the company will be looking to raise about €4.5 million to fully commercialise the device which has global potential.
The tracker is still in development and at present the prototype is being used to gather a critical mass of proof-of-concept data. The company will launch initially in Ireland and the UK followed by the EU and the US.
“Women go through menopause everywhere in the world and these women have been massively underserved by the historical bias in science and health that has seen them under-represented in clinical trials and underdiagnosed, particularly around menopause and its symptoms,” Davis says.