Boom in back­ing for fer­til­ity start-ups af­ter fall in birth rate

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By Hasan Chowd­hury

START-UPS driv­ing in­no­va­tion in the fer­til­ity in­dus­try are see­ing a boom in in­vest­ment, at­tract­ing $2.2bn (£1.8bn) in funds from ven­ture cap­i­tal in­vestors over the past five years.

A study led by Oc­to­pus Ven­tures found a four-fold in­crease in fund­ing for start-ups ex­plor­ing new fer­til­ity treat­ments and test­ing kits be­tween 2014 and 2019.

Funds raised last year by fer­til­ity start-ups glob­ally topped $750m af­ter 97 deals were com­pleted, up from a deal count of 47 in 2014. The av­er­age round size was $7.7m in 2019.

Start-ups are look­ing at in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions in an in­dus­try es­ti­mated to be worth $25bn, ac­cord­ing to Data Bridge Mar­ket Re­search.

For in­stance, Mod­ern Fer­til­ity, which raised $15m in a Se­ries A round last year, has cre­ated a hor­mone test­ing kit that links to an app to help users track ovu­la­tion and fer­tile days. UKbased Adia Health, founded in 2018, of­fers a fin­ger-prick fer­til­ity test at home, giv­ing a smart­phone-linked re­port that shows a user the lev­els of key hor­mones in their blood. Mean­while, Ava of­fers a bracelet that mon­i­tors tem­per­a­ture while you sleep.

The surge in in­vest­ment comes as in­fer­til­ity rates for men and women have soared in re­cent years.

A re­port from the Of­fice for Na­tional Statis­tics last year es­ti­mated a de­cline in the birth rate of 9.9pc in Eng­land and Wales be­tween 2012 and 2018.

Kam­ran Adle, in­vestor at Oc­to­pus Ven­tures, said fer­til­ity treat­ments could be “gen­uinely life-chang­ing for many peo­ple”, but had seen a lack of in­no­va­tion for a num­ber of years due to “rel­a­tive un­der-in­vest­ment” ver­sus sec­tors such as telemedici­ne.

“The trend is clear to see. As fer­til­ity rates con­tinue to de­cline, de­mand for fer­til­ity treat­ments will con­tinue to rise, but not ev­ery­one who wants treat­ment can ac­cess it,” he said.

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