Accelerating FemTech: A National Partnership

The inaugural Accelerating FemTech programme has successfully concluded, led by the Health Innovation Network (HIN) South London in collaboration with all 15 health innovation networks and various partners from across the UK. The initiative, funded by Innovate UK as part of the Biomedical Catalyst in collaboration with the Medical Research Council, highlights the vital role of collective expertise and nationwide collaboration in the programme’s impact.


Despite having longer average life expectancies, women experience a greater proportion of their lives dealing with ill health and disability when compared to men. This disparity is largely due to the prevalent ‘male as default’ approach that continues to influence the health and care system, affecting research and clinical trials, education and training, service delivery, as well as healthcare policies and services.

In August 2022, the Department of Health and Social Care published the inaugural Women’s Health Strategy for England in response to women’s and girls’ unique health challenges and needs across the UK. The strategy sets out a 10-year plan to improve health outcomes, improve understanding of women’s health issues and enhance the overall effectiveness of healthcare services.

Accelerating FemTech

Recognising the urgent need for a more inclusive and gender-sensitive healthcare approach, the Accelerating FemTech programme was created. Specifically designed to address challenges outlined in the Women’s Health Strategy for England, Accelerating FemTech sought to bridge the gender gap by empowering small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) to pioneer early-stage innovations in women’s health through bespoke support, expert-led workshops and mentoring.

Accelerating FemTech consisted of two parts:

  • Inspire – A series of specialist webinars and invite-only face-to-face events that engaged and connected innovators such as clinicians, companies, and academics to develop technology solutions that address challenges in women’s health.
  • Accelerate – A targeted 10-week accelerator programme for SMEs across the UK with early-stage innovations addressing current challenges in women’s health – from female-specific areas such as maternal health, fertility, gynaecological cancers, and menopause, to conditions that affect women disproportionally or differently, including osteoporosis or cardiovascular disease.

A total of 12 companies formed the inaugural cohort of the Accelerating FemTech: Accelerate phase, with their innovations ranging from supporting individuals living with endometriosis, to providing personalised care for pelvic pain and non-hormonal contraceptives:

In the Accelerating FemTech: Accelerate phase, each company was matched with a dedicated business coach from across the 15 health innovation networks. Selected for their extensive experience in supporting healthcare innovations and the wider NHS, weekly meetings were held to cater to each company’s specific needs and learning objectives. Various staff members from the Network also contributed to the programme by serving as mentors and subject matter experts, sharing valuable insights and expertise.

[The most valuable part of the programme was the] meetings with mentors and business coaches [which] were crucial in guiding the company in the right direction.

Accelerating FemTech Company
Final Survey Results Feedback

The ability to share a wealth of expertise and experience from right across the health and social system created an incredible programme for innovators. It was a privilege to hear the different perspectives delivered with same the passion to address the some of the biggest challenges in women’s health.

Alistair Kirby
Innovation Manager at Health Innovation Kent Surrey Sussex

Throughout the programme, these companies received support to apply for the Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst call in November 2023, aiming to showcase their commercial and technical feasibility.

A National Partnership

Delivered by the Health Innovation Network South London (HIN) and partners (the Network, CW Innovation, Mills & Reeves and others), Accelerating FemTech utilised Innovate UK funding as part of the Biomedical Catalyst in collaboration with the Medical Research Council. The programme was led by the collaborative efforts of all 15 health innovation networks across the country and their experience in running innovator support programmes, such as the HIN’s award-winning DigitalHealth.London Accelerator and Health Innovation Yorkshire & Humber’s Propel@YH.

Established by NHS England in 2013 to spread innovation at pace and scale, the Network brings the NHS, industry, academia, third sector and local organisations together to improve health outcomes and generate economic growth. To date, more than 48,000 patients and 2,438 companies have been supported nationally, generating £455 million in investment leveraged by the supported companies.


Accelerating FemTech has delivered a high impact for both participants and funders, including:

  • 66.7 Net Promoter Score in the Excellent category
  • 100% of companies would repeat the programme and said that conversations with experts helped provide insights to develop their project and business, as well as expand their network
  • 83.3% of companies strongly/agreed that the programme furthered their understanding of product development, potential markets, regulatory considerations and strategy
  • The programme’s success has forged partnerships and secured funding with Innovate UK to extend two additional cohorts in 2024

It was great to be part of the first Accelerating FemTech accelerator…a rare opportunity to hear from sector experts on the complexities companies face both around building the right product for the NHS and developing the right business model.

Adora Digital Health
Accelerating FemTech Company

The outcome for the companies involved I am sure will accelerate them towards inclusion into the NHS. The complete, well scheduled programme aided the companies extensively in their pursuit of product, business, and personal growth for each participant, initially many found the pitching was outside of their comfort space for example. The use of a diverse team from the health innovation networks worked extremely well, as did the workshops and subject matter experts input to each company.

Iain Taylor
Consultant and Programme Manager at Health Innovation North East and North Cumbria

To find out more about Accelerating FemTech, check out Accelerating Femtech – Health Innovation Network.

Accelerating FemTech was delivered by the Health Innovation Network South London (HIN) and partners (the Network, CW Innovation, Mills & Reeves and others), utilising Innovate UK funding as part of the Biomedical Catalyst in collaboration with the Medical Research Council.