28 April 2023

Women leaders join forces in new partnership to improve women’s health

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Virtus Health

Women’s health startups can now apply to an ‘Australian-first’ women’s health accelerator program, as Virtus Health and UNSW Founders partner to launch a dedicated Women’s Health stream of the Health 10x Accelerator program

Virtus Health CEO Kate Munnings said the ongoing gap in women’s health innovation in Australia and globally was the driver behind the new partnership. 

“Today, healthtech startups face numerous challenges on the pathway to commercialisation. As one of the world’s leading Assisted Reproductive Service providers, Virtus Health wanted to play a bigger part in supporting women’s health startups to find the best innovation which can improve care for women and their families,” said Kate Munnings.

The Health 10x Accelerator Program focused on women’s health aims to equip startups with business expertise and resources needed to understand the health technology ecosystem, build their company and drive impact through commercialisation.

Kate Munnings said, “Virtus Health is hoping to find startup innovations that are patient-centric and women-centric in design. We are interested in finding deep technologies, AI, machine learning, precision medicine, anything that incorporates big data.” 

A/Prof Vin Smith, Head of New Ventures, Virtus Health explained the focus of the UNSW Founders partnership.  “We are looking for new innovations that are truly going to deliver clinical benefit for patients. That will make care safer, faster, a better experience, and reduce costs - the quadruple aim in healthcare,” said Professor Smith.  

Virtus Health’s investment into the Health 10x program is more than financial. Women’s health startups will also receive in-kind commercialisation support. 

Professor Smith said: “We’ll help the startups with access to our experts, business intelligence in the IVF sector, clinical trial capability and market access across the Virtus network. 

“The best startup accelerator programs know how to commercialise, and UNSW Founders have built a strong track record in providing tailored commercialisation support to health startups over the last four years. Virtus brings to this partnership an ability to help startups test in a clinical environment,” said Professor Smith.  

Kate Munnings said, “At Virtus everything we do is evidence-based. Our goal is to bring the best-in-class reproductive health technologies to market, by aiming to use the highest level of evidence as our guiding principles. As one of the biggest clinical trial operators in the healthcare sector, we want to help startups deliver new clinical technologies to patients in the best possible way.” 

Health 10x Accelerator Program is the first for Virtus Health’s new corporate venture capital arm – Virtus Ventures. Professor Smith said, “At Virtus Ventures we bring the clinical, the commercial and the technology together – a very strategic and focused approach to the commercialisation process.

Virtus Ventures has already collaborated with UNSW-affiliated startup Drop Bio, an Australian biotechnology and digital health company. This first collaboration aims to improve IVF success rates by researching personalised inflammatory biomarker analysis.  

“We are focused on quality not quantity – we set high standards and engage with quality companies and work closely with the companies to make sure they are successful. It’s a powerful way Virtus Health is aiming to make a difference in the lives of women and their families,” said Professor Smith. 

Kate Munnings said Virtus Health’s focus on empowering women’s startups is mirrored in Virtus’ leadership team. 

“I’m proud to lead a reproductive health organisation where women hold the leadership roles that most impact service delivery. The collaboration with UNSW also sees prominent female leaders in healthcare, at the forefront of increasing innovation and health outcomes for women.” 

Dina Titkova, Senior Manager, MedTech, UNSW Founders said, “One half of the world’s population is women, yet only a fraction of health solutions have been developed with women in mind.  UNSW Founders are excited to partner with Virtus Health to change this, starting with accelerating the business growth of reproductive health startups and with future vision of improving women’s health along the lifecycle globally.” 

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