10 women-led health-tech start-ups set to take Paris by storm

5 Sep 2019

Hôtel de Ville, Paris, where the Women Who Tech finalists will pitch to the judging panel. Image: © TTstudio/Stock.adobe.com

Women Who Tech has revealed the 10 finalists for its Paris health-tech challenge, including one Dublin start-up.

Women Who Tech, a non-profit organisation that funds and showcases women-led ventures, has announced the 10 finalists that will compete in the European leg of its health-tech start-up challenge.

Selected from more than 250 entries, the finalists include companies working to increase fertility, improve clinic-patient communication, detect cardiac events and develop technology that allows the fabrication of 3D cellular models of livers.

“The Women Startup Challenge is fostering a culture and inclusive economy to accelerate women founders who are developing solutions to the biggest health problems, directly impacting people’s lives,” said Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech.

“The reality is that the playing field for women isn’t level when it comes to investor funding, and we intend to tackle this gap head-on by providing these founders access to capital, resources and a top-tier investor network.”

Each of these start-ups will receive fundraising pitch coaching and investor mentoring, and they are all invited to pitch their ventures in a competition on 7 October at city hall in Paris. One start-up will then be awarded an equity-free $50,000 cash grant based on the decision of the judging panel, which includes Sarah Fisher, senior director of global markets and external innovation at Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices, and Eamonn Carey, managing director of Techstars London.


Hailing from London, Arthronica is a SaaS platform to remotely diagnose arthritis using either laptop or smartphone cameras, combined with AI-powered software. Arthronica provides rapid access to data on illness progression in order to optimise patient recovery pathways.

Founder Letizia Gionfrida’s journey began as a participant in MedTech SuperConnector, a medtech accelerator led by Imperial College London to support postdocs and postgraduate students. The company spun out from Imperial in 2018 and has since won support from Entrepreneur First and the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centre. With technology trials set for NHS sites, Arthronica also secured £200,000 in funding from Versus Arthritis.


Coming to Paris with a hometown advantage, French start-up Blazar offers a software platform to help oncologists and researchers predict patient responses to specific cancer immunotherapy treatments so that people living with cancer can be treated more effectively.

Also supported by Entrepreneur First, Blazar originally started out as a ‘long-distance’ start-up. The company was founded by Dora Sabino (CEO) and Renan Pereira (CTO). Sabino completed her PhD at Cambridge and brings 14 years of experience in cancer research to the company, while Pereira is an experienced data scientist.


Cardiomo is the company behind a wearable device and analytics system that remotely monitors patient vitals using biosensors and AI to detect cardiac events with 99.63pc accuracy to provide life-saving alerts.

Founders Ksenia Belkina (CEO) and Roman Belkin (CTO) lead a team of engineers, cardiologists, designers and managers in New York City. They see their medical-grade health monitor as a ‘must have’ for people with cardiovascular disease risk factors, elderly people and young athletes.


Cyprio is located at ESPCI Paris, a major French institute for higher education in science and engineering. Created in 2017 on the foundation of 10 years of research at ESPCI, Cyprio has a unique technology for the fabrication of spheroids that are physiologically more relevant than traditional 3D cellular models, and compatible with high throughput screening applications.

Cyprio’s first product, HepatoPearl has been validated as a beneficial in vitro liver model and is intended to provide better predictive research tools for drug efficacy and toxicity screening. Dr Noushin Dianat, Cyprio’s CEO and specialist in cell biology and innovative therapies, joined ESPCI in 2014, where she established and characterised the HepatoPearl model. She is the author of eight articles, holds two patents and has been awarded multiple international grants.

Virtue Health

Digital health innovator Virtue Health is the company behind Eva, a health app for managing the effects of menopause. Eva combines behavioural science, symptom tracking and personalised health insights to help users improve their physical and mental health during menopause, and prevent long-term conditions.

Eva is just one of the solutions Virtue Health has devised for healthy ageing. CEO and co-founder Arfa Rehman is a former Rhodes scholar at Oxford and was selected among nine of London’s most innovative women founders with life-improving solutions at the fifth Mayor of London’s TechInvest event last year. CTO and co-founder Scott Gorman is an award-winning developer who previously founded an ed-tech company in China.


Both a technology solution and a subscription-based streaming platform, Fortë provides hardware and software for boutique fitness studios to enable daily livestreaming of classes. As well as the live streams, users can access studio classes from leading health and fitness coaches on demand worldwide.

This New York City start-up was founded by CEO Lauren Foundos, a former banker and college athlete. She spent a decade working on Wall Street institutionally trading US Treasury bonds before turning to the start-up life in 2015.

Luma Womb

Luma Womb uses photobiomodulation, more commonly known as low-level light therapy, as a fertility treatment. Its patent-pending medical device helps tackle infertility caused by a thin uterine lining by using near-infrared light to regenerate it.

Chart of a female reproductive system showing the difference between an average endometrial lining of more than 8mm and a thin endometrial lining of less than 7mm.

Image: Luma Womb

Luma Womb claims to be the first to tackle a thin endometrium in reproductive medicine beyond minor improvements. Based in Paris, Luma Womb will be represented at the pitching contest by founder Loanna Haseltine, who has a background in fashion and media.


Dutch start-up Meds2Go has developed innovative and stylish cooling containers for people who rely on temperature-sensitive medicines. The lightweight container guarantees a temperature of between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius for at least 24 hours. With this assurance, Meds2Go gives people – especially those with a chronic illness – the freedom and security to travel with their necessary medications.

Led by founder and CEO Carla van den Bos, Meds2Go sprung out of the intensive “three-month pressure cooker”, LaunchLab, in late 2016. This programme was run by Yes!Delft and helped to validate the idea, find its market potential and create a business model.


The sole Scottish start-up in the mix, uFraction8, hails from Falkirk. This young biotech start-up hopes to bring sustainable solutions to bioprocessing. Its scalable technology uses a range of microfluidics-based devices to help bio-manufacturers to grow useful biological cells such as yeast, bacteria, micro-algae and mammalian cells for use in food, drink, medicines and more. This innovative solution could replace filters, membranes, centrifuges and other technologies currently in use.

Executive director Dr Monika Tomecka will be the pitching founder representing uFraction8 in Paris. The company has been shortlisted and successful in many start-up contests since its founding in 2017.


Wellola, the only Irish start-up to compete, is a SaaS platform for clinics to modernise how they care for and communicate with their patients. Based in Dublin, Wellola’s white-label software solution offers in-house and video consultation scheduling in one system to make patient management easier.

Founded in 2017 by CEO Sonia Neary and Dr Greg Martin, its secure patient portal includes a reservations system for online therapy, video consultation with no third-party downloads, integrated payment, and e-invoicing and messaging in compliance with GDPR. The company has been recognised by Enterprise Ireland as a high-potential start-up, having received a Competitive Start Fund from the agency.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.