April 30, 2024

AI-assisted pregnancies: Ovom raises €4.8m for digi-physical fertility clinics

Infertility rates are on the rise globally — Ovom says it can improve people's chance of conception with AI

Infertility rates are on the rise globally, and more people than ever are turning to assisted reproductive tech (ART) like in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to help them conceive. It’s this growing market that has helped German startup Ovom Care raise a €4.8m seed round, led by Alpha Intelligence Capital and featuring Ananda Impact Ventures and Merantix. 

It’s trying to address the problem that, while IVF is becoming more commonplace, the success rates for the treatment working are still very low — just 32% for women under 35 and much lower for those over that age — according to the NHS.

Ovom Care believes it can raise that success metric to north of 50%, using a combination of generative AI and computer vision to develop more personalised treatment pathways.


While it's too soon to measure successful pregnancies that have resulted from Ovom’s tech (the startup launched in August last year), there are already signs that its AI-led approach could be working. Early data has shown a 13% improvement on fertilisation rates compared to the industry average of 75%, says CEO and cofounder Felicia von Reden.

AI-powered fertility

Since the first IVF birth in 1978, an estimated 12m babies have been born using the treatment and other assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). 

IVF is an invasive procedure, which involves a woman being given medication to suppress the menstrual cycle and produce more eggs, before they are collected and fertilised in a lab and then placed back in the womb.

While IVF is the most common treatment to help people conceive, one of the reasons for its low success rate is that that care pathways are often the same for everyone, which “does not maximise an individual's chance of success”, says von Reden.

The solution, she argues, is a treatment plan tailored to the individual. Using predictive AI models, based on things like sleep patterns, stress levels and hormone levels, Ovom says it can personalise the type of medication offered, the dosage, timings and lifestyle advice that patients receive as they go through treatment.

Up to this point, to train its AI models Ovom has used historical IVF data from UK regulator the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), alongside real time patient data from people the startup has helped treat. 

Some of those — like the algorithms that predict a person’s chance of success, and medication dosage optimisation — have been built in house, to sit on top of third-party foundation models. Others, like computer vision tools for embryo and sperm analysis, are not developed in-house.

Von Reden hopes that over the next couple of years — as its AI models are trained on more and more patient data and their performance improves — it can increase the rate of successful pregnancies by 15-20% on standard industry figures. 

Alongside IVF, Ovom also offers egg and sperm freezing and has provided fertility care to more than 100 people, says von Reden.

Hybrid fertility care

While much of Ovom’s team (including von Reden) are based in Berlin, so far all of that fertility care has taken place at a private clinic in London — owned by von Reden’s cofounder, Cristina Hickman — where Ovom has deployed its tech as a white label SaaS product. 


“From a regulatory perspective the UK is quite progressive [compared to much of Europe],” says von Reden. In the UK, for example, egg donation and surrogacy are allowed, whereas they’re banned in many European countries like Germany, she tells Sifted.

But Ovom also wants to open physical clinics in the future. 

While installing Ovom’s AI platform worked at the private clinic because that facility was brand new and didn’t have clunky legacy systems underpinning it, integrating it at an established fertility clinic would be far trickier, says von Reden. Fertility clinics tend to be slow moving organisations that are hesitant to adopt new technologies, she adds.  

The digi-physical approach has picked up traction among startups in recent times. 

Although digital-only businesses have the potential for faster initial growth, they’re limited in terms of the amount of the patient journey — and therefore healthcare revenue — that startups can tap into.

Both Babylon and Kry launched physical clinics after beginning life as digital-only healthcare providers, and VCs have invested some sizable rounds in digi-physical healthtechs over the past couple of years. 

Dentistry care provider Patient21 raised €100m in debt and equity last year and primary healthcare provider Avi Medical raised €50m in 2022. Spotify’s Daniel Ek also raised €60m for his body scanning healthtech Neko Health in 2023.

Next stop: Portugal

For Ovom’s part, it plans to build its first physical clinic in Portugal by the end of 2024.

Like the UK, the country is a frontrunner in fertility care regulation in Europe, says von Reden — and then there’s also costs. 

In the UK, one cycle of IVF treatment can cost £7000-8000k — including treatment, medication and diagnostics, von Reden tells Sifted. Ovom currently charges a similar amount to that — but over time she expects the price to drop as the startup’s technology improves.

In Portugal, however, Ovom will be able to charge around half that from day one. “Portugal is more cost effective [than the UK] in terms of rent and salaries — which means we’re able to pass that onto the patients,” says von Reden. 

Further down the line, Ovom plans to open a second physical clinic in Europe (although it’s too early to say exactly where, says von Reden) towards the end of 2025 or the start of 2026.

Kai Nicol-Schwarz

Kai Nicol-Schwarz is a reporter at Sifted. He covers UK tech and healthtech, and can be found on X and LinkedIn