Healthcare start-up Béa Fertility has raised GBP800,000 (USD1 million) to bring an innovative at-home fertility treatment to the UK. The round was led by Calm/Storm VC and joined by Q Ventures, and includes an innovation grant from the recent InnovateUK SMART competition.
Founded by embryologist David O’Rourke and femtech specialist Tess Cosad, Béa Fertility is focused on democratising access to affordable, effective fertility treatments for couples and individuals who are struggling to conceive. It is estimated that infertility affects one in seven heterosexual couples in the UK.
Currently, the next step for those who are unable to conceive naturally is to receive either Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatments at a fertility clinic; interventions which can take a physical and emotional toll on those involved. It also presents a financial burden. Whilst some people are eligible for initial IVF treatments through the NHS, this provision is patchy and contingent on meeting a range of criteria. Those who don’t qualify or who need to continue on their conception journey after that point must cover the costs themselves. One cycle of IVF can cost upwards of GBP5,000 and one IUI treatment can cost upwards of GBP1,500.
Through their product, Béa Fertility will create a new step on this fertility pathway. For those struggling to conceive naturally, the Béa product will enable couples to carry out what’s called “IntraCervical Insemination” (ICI) at home. Béa’s ICI method involves placing a small cup of semen close to the cervix, where it’s left in-situ for four to 12 hours. During that time, women can go about their days normally.
Following over 90 design iterations led by some of the UK’s leading embryologists, the Béa team believe that their method will improve the chances of conception by 40 per cent if used over three months, and by as much as 60 per cent if used over six months. The ICI method has been scientifically proven to have similar efficacy rates to IUI treatments.
Béa Fertility will operate on a monthly subscription basis, providing users with: two ICI devices, (for a widely-approved clinical method called Double Insemination), ovulation tests, pregnancy tests, and access to an app to help track ovulation dates and the progress of their fertility journey. The subscription will cost around GBP300 per month, meaning five months of the Béa ICI treatment will be the same price of one round of IUI at a fertility clinic (and currently the lowest cost treatment available).
Béa CEO and Co-Founder, Tess Cosad, comments: “Our mission at Béa is to democratise access to effective fertility treatments; providing people with more options. ICI is clinically proven to be highly effective when it comes to increasing the chances of conception, but it’s not made available to people at the beginning of their fertility journey. Instead, they have to take a big leap into the expensive world of invasive treatments. But for people where there’s no medically-identified issue causing infertility, ICI can be the ideal way of maximising their chances of getting pregnant. We’re designing a product that enables people to do this easily and affordably, all from home.
“Infertility is sadly still a taboo and something we don’t talk enough about, meaning people often struggle through it alone. There’s something so empowering about taking your fertility journey into your own hands, and this is why I’m so passionate about launching Béa Fertility. Through Béa, we’re breaking down barriers, driving inclusion, improving access, and fundamentally cracking open the fertility market.
“We’re delighted to be welcoming so many esteemed investors at this crucial stage of our journey, and I’m proud to have a diverse, balanced cap table. They bring critical industry expertise which will prove invaluable as we bring this life-changing product to market.”
David O’Rourke, Béa Co-Founder and embryologist, adds: “I’ve spent many years working in fertility and feel passionately about widening access to a bigger range of treatments. I knew that ICI interventions had strong rates of success, but that they’d fallen by the wayside as fertility clinics focused on the more expensive IUI and IVF end of the market. That sparked the idea for an ICI treatment that could be easily handled by the couple, at home, helping them take control over the next step of their journey to conceive. We’ve gone through over 90 iterations of the product to reach the right balance of effectiveness and user-friendliness and we can’t wait to start helping couples improve their chances of having a baby.”
Lucanus Polagnoli, Managing Partner and Co-Founder at Calm/Storm VC, comments: “Fertility issues affect a huge number of people. And whilst there’s been some disruption in the fertility tracking space, there’s been far less disruption in new products and technologies that support the actual conception process. That’s why we were so excited to hear about Béa. With Tess and David at the helm, we cannot wait to see this game-changing product change lives across the UK and beyond.”
Brian Hatton, Partner at Q Ventures, comments: “QVentures are thrilled to join Tess and David, two very passionate entrepreneurs, on their mission to democratise fertility treatment. Individuals and couples with fertility and conception questions currently face a long and potentially expensive journey. Tess and David’s aim to lift the veil on this very personal process and help so many people is such a compelling story. We could not be more excited!”
QVentures is a Venture Capital firm providing direct investment opportunities and fund management. QVentures sources, screens, and invests in top-tier start-ups from Seed to Series B for their investor base consisting of Family Offices, Institutional Investors, UHNWIs, and Cashed-out Entrepreneurs. QVentures has participated in rounds totalling GBP220 million across 115 companies.