JunoFem CEO Jen Barnes placed third for her pitch on femfit® in the Australian event for She Loves Tech, the world’s largest start-up competition for women and technology which attracted more than 120 applicants this year.
The femfit® is a unique medical device designed by clinicians that helps women manage their pelvic floor health. It draws on a decade of research led by Dr Jenny Kruger, who is internationally recognised for her pelvic floor health research at the University of Auckland’s Auckland Bioengineering Institute.
In her winning She Loves Tech pitch, CEO Jen Barnes explains that she was attracted by femfit® because she personally understood the need to address urinary incontinence and she wanted to champion a solution for a problem that was regularly and unnecessarily misunderstood. The potential to change the lives of millions of women around the world excited her.
Her pitch, carefully refined after challenges convincing male-dominated boardrooms of the problem solved by femfit®, highlights that one in three women worldwide will experience urinary incontinence. And despite common beliefs that it is normal, expected after childbirth and a part of aging, the average age is only 44 and many women who experience urinary incontinence have not had children.
While up to 80% of women can resolve the problem through effective pelvic floor exercises, the challenge comes in the difficulty identifying and activating the appropriate muscles.
“There’s nothing simple nor intuitive about contracting a muscle you can’t see. That’s where femfit® comes in. It acts essentially as a personal trainer for your pelvic floor muscles by measuring internal pressure along the wall of the vagina and sending real-time feedback to a mobile app to help women understand whether they’re activating the right muscles.”
What’s next for JunoFem and femfit®
Jen Barnes joined as CEO of JunoFem in October 2019. Jen has over 15 years of commercial experience in medical devices and diagnostics, and could instantly see the opportunity to commercialise the femfit®. Built on financial backing from government grants, MedTech Core and the University of Auckland Inventors’ Fund managed by UniServices, JunoFem has been able to scale up, obtain regularity approval and register femfit® as a medical device for sale in both New Zealand and Australia.
The femfit® is now available on the market under limited release, and JunoFem is seeking investor funding to support scaling, manufacturing and sales and marketing for a full market launch in both New Zealand and Australia in Quarter Two, 2021.
“It is an exciting time to get involved with the company,” says Ms Barnes. “We have a fantastic team, regulatory approval, a strong market need and our first sales. We know we will be able to help millions of women.”