Our Investment in Gaia: Redesigning Access to Fertility Care
For millions of people across the world, seeking out fertility treatment is a highly complex, painful, and emotionally challenging process. Not only can finding care seem an isolating and daunting task, societal norms and expectations still dictate that the topic remains taboo in mainstream conversation.
To underscore the scale of the problem, only cancer and cardiovascular-related issues affect more people in the developed world compared to the 1 in 6 who deal with infertility.The number of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments has grown by 8% year on year for the last 10 years, demonstrating the increasing prevalence of responses to declining fertility.
The broad factors driving increasing demand for fertility care are well-known. Studies into male sperm counts have shown a consistent decline over several decades, while the growing economic power of women and their influence on healthcare decisions has seen a rising number of families being started later in life. Add to this shifting family structures becoming more commonplace – such as same-sex couples seeking out IVF – and the basis of upward pressure on the availability of fertility care is clear to see.
But rising demand isn’t being met by increased access to these vital treatments. In many ways, the fertility care model as it exists today is broken because it is designed in an unfair and financially exclusive manner. Only one in seven people in the UK and US who require IVF end up accessing it. The average cost for an IVF treatment course in the UK is £15,000, while in the US it climbs to $50,000.
As Atomico Partner Sasha Astafyeva explained in our recent thesis on female and reproductive health in Europe, we at Atomico believe that new models, solutions, and technologies are needed to improve access to fertility care. We see huge potential in companies leveraging data to provide meaningful long-term impact, while offering a seamless customer and community-oriented experience that monetises in a way that’s sensitive to the industry’s complexities.
Today, we’re hugely excited to announce our investment in Gaia, a company that we believe ticks all of those boxes and more. Gaia is aiming to level the playing field for access to fertility care by offering a new way to pay for treatments, starting with a model that provides personalised insurance and payment plans for people going through IVF.
Gaia’s proposition is underpinned by predictive technology which uses secure and clinically validated datasets to predict the number of rounds a couple will likely need in addition to the clinics that can offer the right treatment. What makes the model all the more powerful is that it directly challenges the system’s historic access issues: those who do not have a live birth in the rounds subject to Gaia’s prediction technology pay a fraction of the cost of the treatment, while those that do have a baby spread the cost of their total treatment cycles into manageable monthly payments over time.
Nader AlSalim founded Gaia following his experience of going through IVF treatments with his wife. We’ve been awed and humbled by his – and the rest of the team’s – drive, conviction, and vision to make fertility care fairer for everyone.
We are thrilled to join Gaia on its path towards opening the doors to family building for the underserved, and look forward to seeing Nader and the team continue to modernise the family planning process.