fermata Raises 210 million JPY in Series A Funding

New capital will expand fermata’s consumer platform signaling growth of the femtech industry in the APAC region.

(Minato-ku, Tokyo) In April 2022, Dr. Amina Sugimoto CEO of fermata inc. (hereinafter "fermata"), announced 210 million JPY in Series A funding. The company is uniquely positioned as a thought leader accelerating the growth of the femtech industry across Asia.

This financing round was led by a diverse group of investors including The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners Corporation (Head Office: Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo / President: Tomotaka Goji; hereinafter "UTEC"), DEEPCORE Corporation (Head Office: Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo; President: Katsumasa Niki; hereinafter “DEEPCORE”), iSGS Investment Works (Head Office: Minato-ku, Tokyo / Representative Partners: Kazuto Goto, Makiko Sato, and Takashi Sugawara; hereinafter "iSGS"), and one of Japan’s largest general trading companies, Itochu Corporation (Head Office: Minato-ku, Tokyo / President, and COO: Keita Ishii; hereinafter "ITOCHU").

(fermata’s Leadership Team from left to right: CEO Amina Sugimoto, CCO Hiroko Nakamura, COO Kana Kondo)
Following the company’s vision to "Transform Taboos into Triumphs", fermata has built a network of over 900 femtech companies worldwide and nine partnerships with major global femtech and health tech hubs. Based in Tokyo and Singapore, the company’s combined expertise in public health and policy, as well as business and community development in Asia has contributed to the accelerated growth of the femtech industry across the region.

fermata’s work aims to solve access gaps found between different stakeholders - this includes government officials, academics, physicians, investors, and, end-users.

To do this, fermata’s services support users and partners across three levels:

  • End-users:
    fermata is Japan's largest e-commerce platform dedicated to femtech, with an active online community hosting regular events fermata is growing consumer awareness around women's health and wellbeing. At fermata’s flagship offline stores, users can directly touch and experience products first-hand. In partnership with major retail partners including Isetan, Takashimaya, and PARCO, fermata’s femtech products are accessible in offline stores across the country.
  • Corporate partners:
    fermata’s consulting services offer tailored benefits for both domestic and global corporate partners. For global companies, fermata provides end-to-end consulting services - as a market authorization license holder in cosmetic, quasi-drug, and class I and II medical devices. This includes regulatory support, distribution across offline/online sales channels, and market research to support product development and brand positioning. For domestic companies, fermata provides B2B expertise in developing inclusive employee benefits and employee education programs that contribute to the promotion of DEI.
  • Government partners:
    To accelerate the growth of the femtech industry, fermata has worked with government partners in revising Japanese laws and regulations, including the Act on Quality, Efficacy and Safety Assurance of Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices (hereinafter referred to as "Pharmaceutical Affairs Law"). These milestones have effectively supported the market distribution of products driving innovation and effectively positioned fermata as a thought leader in protecting consumer privacy and the use of health data.

Celebrating 3 Years of fermata with Femtech Fes!

Every year, fermata hosts Japan’s largest industry expo “Femtech Fes!” featuring the latest innovations in women’s health from around the world. In 2021, the event drew over 1400 in-person attendees to see the curated showcase of 157 products and services from 27 countries in 6 regions around the world (click here for event video). As the largest in-person event of its kind, this cross-sector conference including end-users, physicians, government officials, and investors had the opportunity to be exposed to taboos and explore business opportunities specific to women’s health and wellbeing in Japan. Following on from the success of 2021, this year’s event will be held at Roppongi Hills for three days from October 14 (Fri.) to 16 (Sun.), 2022.

(femtech Fes!, held in October 2021)

The femtech market in Asia and Japan is at a turning point. New options to improve one's health and wellness are becoming more available. Interest in women’s health among consumers and industry stakeholders is also growing; this is evident through the feedback from fermata’s community, especially from consumers who seek the latest information about femtech to influence life choices that will shape their futures. However, fear, stigma, and lack of awareness about innovation in women’s health still exist and act as significant barriers to solving access gap issues. Additionally, there is a discrepancy between the rapid growth of the health tech industry and discussions at the national level on legislation to protect the privacy of individual healthcare data. Many challenges still remain in ensuring the continued growth of the femtech industry.

fermata is prepared to take on these challenges with this recent investment. fermata plans to further develop the online platform to include improved curation and recommendation tools, increase data privacy functions to meet user demand, and strengthen recruitment to grow the team. fermata aims to establish further trust as a curator and partner that supports stakeholders both in and outside of Japan to transform taboos into triumphs.

Comment from Dr. Amina Sugimoto, CEO and Co-founder of fermata Inc.

Investing in the healthcare market, particularly in women's health, has been considered taboo and difficult for a variety of reasons, both domestically and internationally. In recent years, however, "femtech" has gained recognition across industry, government, and academia as an exceptional growth industry. Because it is still a growing industry, femtech is also garnering attention as discussions of data protection and use of new technologies becomes more relevant for a variety of stakeholders than ever before.

We are grateful that our Series A investors not only saw potential in fermata, but recognized that the femtech industry in Asia has entered a new stage of growth. UTEC provides us with unparalleled support in expanding our services and collaborations with academic partners.. We plan to work closely with DEEPCORE on the development of our online platform, and iSGS to help us build personalized services for customers on the platform. With the support of ITOCHU, we plan to expand our retail services further across the Asian and Japanese markets.

As we enter our third year, I hope to work with our powerful new partners to create an Asia-wide movement that transforms taboos into triumphs.

■Comments from Investors

Dr. Maiko Katadae, Partner, UTEC (appointed as External Director of fermata) ※pictured left
Dr. Tomotaka Goji, Managing Partner, President & CEO, UTEC (appointed as Auditor of fermata) ※pictured right

fermata is a startup that seeks to foster a society and ecosystem that values diversity by building a platform to encourage the advancement of women’s health in Asia and promoting the growth of the femtech industry. CEO Amina Sugimoto and her leadership team are highly entrepreneurial global talents, and are one of the few teams in Japan that are able to lead the current femtech movement. UTEC is fully committed and looking forward to supporting fermata to become a leader in the global femtech space.

UTEC / The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners, Inc.: Since its establishment in April 2004, UTEC has worked diligently with entrepreneurs, scientists, and engineers to invest in numerous startups that challenge global and human issues, and has achieved successful results. With an investment strategy of creating startups that challenge global markets and human challenges, the firm provides consistent hands-on support from the seed/early stage to startups with strengths in a wide range of science and technology in collaboration with the University of Tokyo and other academic institutions in Japan and overseas. To date, the firm has invested in more than 140 startups, of which 17 have gone public and 13 have achieved exits through M&A or other means.

Mr. Katsumasa Niki, President and Representative Director, DEEPCORE ※pictured left
Ms. Kasumi Amemiya, CFO, DEEPCORE ※pictured right

We invested in fermata based on our confidence that this team has what it takes to enact the changes they envision.. We saw the steady efforts of CEO Amina Sugimoto and the fermata team, not only in their front-line activities as Japan's leading experts in the femtech field, but also in the foundational activities that support their efforts including regulatory development, understanding of the latest research in women’s health, and steady networking with overseas femtech startups.

fermata’s endeavors to create a platform for better data collection will not only benefit the experience of individual consumers; we foresee that this type of data collection would contribute to medical research and ultimately provide a significant positive impact to society.

We look forward to seeing fermata continue to create much excitement and “transformations” as per the company's vision.

DEEPCORE / DEEPCORE Corporation: With the mission of "CORE for Disruptive Innovations," DEEPCORE is an AI-focused VC that aims to foster outstanding entrepreneurs in the field of AI, especially deep learning. It invests through its operating fund and supports startups through the operation of KERNEL, an AI technology-driven community.

Ms. Makiko Sato, Director/Representative Partner, iSGS
※pictured right
Ms. Risa Aki, Investment Manager, iSGS ※pictured left

Women's social advancement has been improving steadily due to the expansion of DEI initiatives. On the other hand, gender-specific wellness issues are still taboo, and there is still so much that medicine has not yet discovered about women's health.

By creating a platform that contributes to solving women's wellness issues, fermata aims to collect data that can be used in many areas, including the development of products that help women's lives and medical care. We are optimistic of a future where fermata's will continue to grow and be seen as a resource throughout Japan and the world, making life easier for all people - not just women. iSGS do its utmost to support the development of fermata moving forward.

iSGS / iSGS Investment Works, Inc.: With "Be a LifeStyle Changer" as one of its investment policies, iSGS established its first fund in 2016 and its second fund, iSGS ARISE Investment Limited Partnership, in January 2020. With an average of more than 20 years of investment experience and a wealth of practical and management experience, the three partners of iSGS have a broad network and experience in investing in and supporting startups that use technology to bring about change not only in the Internet industry, but also in industries such as healthcare, food services, retail, logistics, agriculture, and education.

Mr. Ryohei Suda, General Manager, Development & Research Division, ITOCHU Corporation

ITOCHU has been focusing on the femtech market as a new growth area. We decided to form a capital and business alliance with fermata, a provider of comprehensive solutions in this market, with the aim of supporting market expansion and jointly developing related products and services.

Through this new partnership, we hope to utilize ITOCHU’s network and infrastructure, as well as fermata's expertise in the femtech field to accelerate the development of products and services that contribute to solving key social issues, especially those that pertain to women's wellbeing. We share a vision to realize a society where all people, regardless of gender, are able to live free of obstacles.

ITOCHU Corporation: ITOCHU Corporation was founded in 1858 by Chubei Itoh as a linen peddler, and has continued to grow over the past century and a half. Today, as a major sogo shosha with approximately 100 offices in 62 countries around the world, ITOCHU Corporation is engaged in a wide range of businesses, including domestic, import, export, and trilateral transactions in the textile, machinery, metals, energy, chemicals, food, housing, information, and finance sectors, as well as business investments in Japan and overseas.

What is femtech?
femtech is a term combining the words "female" and "technology", refering to devices, applications, and products that use technology to address health issues specific to women, such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. The femtech market has grown rapidly over the past few years, and the global market size is expected to reach 1.18 trillion USD by 2027, with an economic impact of approximately 2 trillion yen in Japan by 2025*.

*According to the official report by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (https://www.meti.go.jp/policy/economy/jinzai/R2fy_femtech.pdf)

About fermata Inc.
fermata is a Tokyo- and Singapore based femtech store and market entry facilitator. With both online and offline sales channels, fermata specializes in providing localization services, and is a Market Authorization Holder for cosmetic, quasi-drug and medical device (Class I and II) products. Our mission is to turn taboos into triumphs by making femtech products and services available to people in Asia.

CEO Amina Sugimoto, DrPH is open for interview questions in English and Japanese.
For press inquiries, please contact Lia Camargo: lia@hellofermata.com

Recruitment information
fermata inc. is currently recruiting new members to join our growing team.
Please see below for information on open positions. https://hellofermata.com/blogs/recruit
Recruitment contact: recruit@hellofermata.com (Attn: Aoyama, Shirome)

Website: https://hellofermata.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hellofermata/
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Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/hellofermata/
Address: Wherever 3F, 7-2-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo