Innovation That Matters

Bio-degradable pregnancy test

Where Are They Now?: Lia

Where Are They Now

We spoke to co-founders Bethany Edwards and Anna Simpson, who are focusing on providing women with an ethical and sustainable product to help women find out if they’re pregnant in a convenient and private way.

Lia, the world’s first flushable, biodegradable pregnancy test, is nearing commercial availability. In November 2017, the company received United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Class 2 medical device approval for the test. First covered by Springwise in 2015 when the test was in development, Lia is moving towards becoming a women’s healthcare brand.

Using their knowledge of materials science, co-founders Bethany Edwards and Anna Simpson are shaking up an area of women’s healthcare that has stagnated for decades. The Lia pregnancy test is an efficacious medical diagnostic device that is also flushable and biodegradable. It will enable women everywhere to take a pregnancy test and then take charge of deciding when and with whom to share the news.

As the company moves toward commercialization, Edwards and Simpson say that the biggest transition in their business journey so far has been from innovating in research and development to becoming a company with a product and building a brand. Both say that grit is essential to their success. “We’re figuring it out together,” said Edwards. “Ours is a creative path. We’re creating something that never existed before. We’ve combined paper and woven material with diagnostic capability and a proprietary coating.”

The company is currently focused on the launch of Lia, after which the emphasis will switch to developing other products in order to position the brand as a broader women’s health company. Current R&D is looking at ways to support a woman’s ovulation cycle.

The co-founders say that the main challenges they have encountered so far in their entrepreneurial journey have centered on product development: “It took thousands of prototypes to get to where we are now.” Three important lessons that Edwards and Simpson say that they have learned so far are that entrepreneurship is a journey; uncertainty is a constant; and networking is essential. “We’ve learned that there will always be challenges and problems, so we must be creative when solving them.”

One essential aspect of successful entrepreneurship is the ability to manage the discomfort that comes from the constancy of the unknown. And that includes following up on networking opportunities. Personal relationships are all-important in business, and Edwards and Simpson say “You never know what may come from a chance meeting.”

As the Lia team continues to build the brand, improvements and development will focus on expanding the line of products, particularly single use diagnostic devices. The company is also continuing its work to raise general awareness of the idea that women’s health is important to everyone.