Besides our amazing keynote speakers, this month’s conference features great curated panel discussions. Meet the participants ahead of the event.
By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)
Some things always stay the same at event Women 2.0 conference — high flyers deliver keynotes, lunchtime mentoring offers support and advice in an intimate environment, and our PITCH competition highlights awesome early-stage, female-founded companies — but we’re also always looking for fresh ways to make the event even more valuable for our community.
That’s why we decided to introduce curated panels for the first time ever this year. Drawing on the principle that two (or more) heads are better than one, we decided to pick the brains of veteran investors and top tech journalists to help us select some of our panels and guide participants’ in-depth discussions of pressing issues in the industry.
So who have they invited to share their experience and insight with our audience? This week we’re highlighting some of the participants gathered by VentureBeat’s Christina Farr for her curated panel, “Big Tech: Innovation vs. Regulation in HealthTech,” which will discuss the startups pushing the boundaries of traditional healthcare, as well as questions around privacy and regulation. Meet Surbhi Sarna, CEO and founder of nVision.
Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers who might not be familiar with your work?
nVision is an early-stage, venture backed medical device company dedicated to filling the void in female health-related innovation. Our current areas of interest are reproductive health and early detection of ovarian cancer. Infertility is a $5 billion (US alone and growing) market and we have developed a catheter-based device which will significantly advance the diagnosis of the leading cause of female infertility, fallopian tube blockage. Current iterations of this product will allow physicians to detect ovarian cancer in office at earlier, more treatable stages, therefore preventing the spread of this lethal cancer.
Why did you decide to work in the healthcare space?
When I was 13, I suffered from complex, repeat ovarian cysts. Physicians could not tell whether or not one of the cysts were cancerous. The only way to get a definitive answer was to do an invasive surgery that would risk not only my fertility but spreading the potential cancer as well. That being said, our only real option was to wait and see if the cyst grew larger. I was lucky, and the cyst turned out to be benign, but it was then that I decided I would try to one day start a company dedicated to women’s health.
What’s one topic you’re excited to talk about at the conference?
The intersection between traditional medical devices sold to physicians and the newer, currently evolving “medtech” consumer-directed space.
The panel touches on the issue of regulation — as a device company, how have you found the regulatory burdens on your company? Have changes to the healthcare system affected your business at all?
Our device will be regulated by the FDA and we’re going to start the process later this year. We have dedicated resources to better understand our pathway to approval and it looks like we will be a 510(k) class II device, meaning minimal clinical trials. In terms of changes in the healthcare system, I think there have been both negative and positive impacts. For example, when investors didn’t know where insurance coverage was going to land, it was harder to raise money. On the plus side, it looks like women will now have easier access to the BRCA test, meaning that more women will know that they are at high risk for ovarian cancer and qualify for our test.
Your company specializes in devices for women. Are the needs of women getting enough attention from the healthcare industry and healthcare startups?
We’ve come a long way since the days (not too long ago) that women weren’t included in clinical trials. More entrepreneurs and investors are realizing that women make most healthcare-related decisions and recognize that as an unmet opportunity. I think we are headed in the right direction, but of course there is plenty of work to do.
Jessica Stillman (@entrylevelrebel) is an editor at Women 2.0 and a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com, contributes regularly to Forbes and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM and Brazen Careerist, among others.