Odonata Health, a Minneapolis-based maternal and fetal health technology startup, is in the running for $1 million in funding as a U.S. finalist in the second annual Female Founders Competition. Organized by Microsoft’s venture fund M12 in conjunction with VC partners Mayfield and Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures, the competition’s objective is to create a more equitable playing field for female founders.
“As a finalist, I am incredibly excited and honored to be a part of such a talented and driven group of entrepreneurs,” said Odonata founder and CEO Ann Holder in a press release. Her company develops proprietary, wearable sensor technology which non-invasively measures maternal and fetal vitals during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. The data, which includes fetal ECG and heartrate, are then analyzed using AI and deep neural networks. The technology allows clinicians to quickly and easily identify fetal distress in order to protect the health of mother and baby.
Odonata’s lead clinical partner is the Mayo Clinic, where Dr. Paul Friedman, chair of the Mayo Clinic Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, and his team developed the algorithm utilized by Odonata’s technology. He and Odonata hope to help reduce the high rate of maternal morbidity and mortality around the world; according the Centers for Disease Control, more than 700 women in the U.S. die in childbirth each year.
“Monitoring systems used in labor and delivery are based on antiquated technologies developed in the 1960s,” Holder said. “These outdated systems are bulky, hardwires, low-tech, and can produce inaccurate or incomplete data. These products haven’t kept up with technology advancements, including the application of advanced AI to maternal and fetal data.”
Holder’s background includes almost a decade of experience at Medtronic in a number of operational roles. To date, she has raised $1.5 million for Odonata and hopes to raise additional capital this year in order to develop the company’s first product.
The Female Founders Competition is a global competition that accelerates funding for women entrepreneurs developing business-to-business “deeptech”—a term for companies working on substantial scientific advances and high-tech engineering innovation—and software-as-a-service solutions. Four winning companies will receive a total of $6 million in venture funding along with access to technology, resources, and mentoring.
“The Female Founders Competition applications were impressive, and we were blown away by the technical expertise, customer-centricity, and passion from these founders,” M12 managing director Tamara Steffens said. “As women continue to deliver higher revenue than their male counterparts, it’s a business imperative to invest in women building technical companies.
A live finals pitch competition is taking place this week—virtually, due to coronavirus. Two enterprise software startups will receive $2 million each, and two deeptech startups will earn $1 million each.