By appointing Trine Bartholdy as Chief Innovation Officer, BioInnovation Institute (BII) further strengthens its efforts to improve and promote women’s health through the commercialization of groundbreaking life-science innovation.
The lack of funding for women’s health remains a huge issue. According to an analysis from the capital market company, Pitchbook, only four percent of healthcare R&D is explicitly targeted at women’s health issues. Yet one in three women will suffer from a reproductive or gynecological health issue and women spend an estimated $500 billion on medical expenses on an annual basis.
With a strategic focus on early-stage life science projects, start-ups, and women’s health research, BII wants to foster highly needed innovation with commercial potential in the area. At the beginning of 2019, BII admitted Cirqle Biomedical, a company developing one of the first easy-to-use, on-demand contraceptives without hormones for women. Another example is the recently BII-admitted company Notify Therapeutics, a spin-out research project from Aarhus University that focuses on the initial ovarian follicle development for women with low ovarian reserves, where there are no treatment options today.
However, with Trine Bartholdy’s extensive combinatorial experience as Investment Director at Sunstone Capital, establishing new disease strategies in the pharmaceutical industry (Novo Nordisk) and CEO-positions at the Maternity Foundation and at the Fertility Partnership, she is the perfect fit when it comes to further strengthening innovation in women’s health, according to Jens Nielsen, CEO of BII.
“Trine is a true capacity combining a great understanding of business development with deep knowledge about the women’s health agenda and has already played a crucial part in BII’s early efforts to improve innovation to the benefit of women’s health. She will now be responsible for further accelerating this development through launching new initiatives and establishing valuable partnerships to ensure highly needed life science innovation in the field,” he says.
The newly appointed CIO looks forward to taking on the new challenge and explains that she has seen an unexploited potential in the field for a longer period. Nevertheless, it is impossible to pinpoint a sole reason why women’s health has traditionally been underfunded.
“If you look from an R&D and commercial perspective, oncology has for many years benefitted from high attention and authorities and payers have been willing to approve and fund even marginal changes in the ‘standard of care’. However, some of these disease areas start to be crowded in terms of solutions available. Therefore, investors and the industry have begun to support previously underserved areas such as neurodegenerative indications, e.g., Alzheimer’s. Such a shift in investments and focus requires a strong ecosystem from growing scientific insights, awareness creation, market establishment and a critical mass within industry and investment communities to drive decision-making and development. BII’s core belief is that we will see an investment shift from the more established disease areas into the highly unmet disease areas such as Women’s Health,” says Trine Bartholdy, Chief Innovation Officer at BII.
She further adds that it is positive that investors and industry show increased interest in reproductive health and the area of FemTech. However, more innovative solutions are still needed when it comes to drug development targeting diseases that primarily hit women, including endometriosis, maternal health area and specific cardiovascular and central nervous system diseases. To mention a few.
“At BII, we are now embarking on firstly doing a deep dive in the ecosystem by scouting for the best research sites, start-ups, investors and industry. And then we will engage with relevant international partners to make a targeted approach to support the areas that hold both short term and longer-term promises for the girls and women in need,” ends Trine Bartholdy.