Interview #FFM20
with Lina Behrens

Managing Director bei Flying Health

FFM-Team: In all your previous activities, you have always been closely connected with innovation in the healthcare sector. Could you tell us a bit about where you have worked so far?

 

Lina: After graduating in economics in Switzerland, I lived abroad for a long time. First, I worked for a management consultancy firm in England, where I was involved in a lot of projects at the interface of health and technology. After working for a social enterprise in London and a company builder in Bogota, I returned to Germany in 2018. I wanted to work in the field of innovation and health again, so I joined Flying Health and have been on the management board since October 2019.

FFM-Team: What role do startups play in the health sector and how exactly do you work with them at Flying Health?

 

Lina: The structure of the German healthcare system is quite traditional. With Flying Health we want to actively promote innovation. We cooperate with different partners in order to bring about change. More specifically, I support startups with the development of their business models and get them in touch with relevant contacts. In addition, we support companies in connection with issues surrounding market access. Scientific evidence is very important in the healthcare sector – this also raises questions concerning the design of clinical studies in the digital field, for example.

FFM-Team: As someone who works a lot with startups, you must know that there are currently still very few female founders. According to our study the proportion is only 16%. Where do you see the biggest challenges for women in the startup sector?

 

Lina: I ask myself that quite often, too. There are a lot of women in our company and I have often worked with inspiring women in management positions in my professional life. That really helps because role models can show you what you can achieve yourself. But I think the biggest challenge is in the area of financing. It is often still more difficult for female founders to obtain financing and all too often, you find yourself sitting in a room of men only at the investment appointments. But I have the impression that things are getting better, at least slowly. There are now a lot of studies that highlight the advantages of having diverse teams. Just recently we had a discussion about the FemTech sector, where the proportion of female founders is significantly higher. But even here, men have so far received more capital from investors.

FFM-Team: More and more women are studying science and medicine – in many fields they already outnumber men. How can we motivate more of them to found their own company?

 

Lina: Basically, the career path, if your study medicine, for example, seems relatively clear and straightforward. Founding a company here would be a deviation from the traditional path. And this requires good and supportive conditions as well as role models. When I came back to Germany, it struck me that people in other countries are also more willing to take risks. If we want to change this, we need to change our attitudes from an early age and accept that it is okay to take a risk and that you can learn a lot if things don’t always run smoothly.

FFM-Team: You are a mentor for the Grace Accelerator and as such you are committed to encouraging and strengthening female founders. How does the program work in practice and how do you get involved as a mentor?

 

Lina: Last year I was asked if I would like to be a mentor at the Grace Summer Camp and was more than happy to do it. The camp brings together women who want to start a business. As mentors, we stood by the teams and talked about issues like business models or team dynamics. Basically I do a lot of mentoring because I think i‘t s incredibly important. Especially in the initial phase of founding a company, mentoring can help to get new impulses, but also to prioritize better.