The accelerator name reflects that women comprise 51% of the U.S. population, although women's health "has inaccurately been categorized as a niche space, with only 5% of all U.S. digital health funding going to women+’s health startups," Matter said.
51 Labs and Matter are using the word "women+" in their descriptions to encompass the health needs experienced by women, including non-binary, transgender, cisgender, non-cisgender and all women-identified people.
"If you look at women's health, it is entirely underinnovated," Matter CEO Steven Collens said in an interview. "There should have been a significantly larger amount of capital going into it, since forever."
In menopause support, Collens said, there is practically nothing, "not the kind of resources you'd expect for something that disrupts women's health in the ways it does."
The accelerator will include two tracks. The awareness and identification track may involve education, support and community-building around identifying and understanding menopause. A symptom and lifestyle management track would develop ways for women to better manage their symptoms.
Collens said women's health has been on Matter's radar for a while and it now appears the marketplace is becoming more active with more investment funds, conferences, blogs, podcasts and other activity.
"It's behaving like a nascent, but growing market," he said.
Matter worked with a team from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University to analyze the overall women's health market, Collens said. The Kellogg report from the last quarter of 2021 showed "that there is a lot missing from the world of women's health," he said.
The accelerator's 12-week curriculum is meant to rapidly develop business and entrepreneurship skills, with 8 to 12 hours a week devoted to accelerator assignments and activities. Each startup will receive mentoring from members of the four sponsor firms.
There's no financial component to the accelerator, the statement said, although participants will get exposure to potential investors.
Matter is taking submissions from startups through Nov. 6 and will name the first 51 Labs group by Nov. 17. The menopause-focused accelerator will last from Nov. 28 to March 2, 2023, culminating in a live showcase of solutions, the statement said.
51 Labs plans to focus on other women's health issues with annual accelerators in the future, Collens said.