Giovanna Forte, CEO at Forte Medical Limited

When did you set up your business and with what means?

Precision diagnostics for routine female health.

In 2002 my brother Dr Vincent Forte NHS GP for over 20 years invented a medical device to guarantee accurate diagnostic screening for women with Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and prenatal screening. He asked me to help.

Whilst running my successful architectural and design communications agency, we joined forces to develop the design, patents and commercialisation plans and in 2006, we secured seed funding from the London Development Agency with matched Angel funding. I closed Forte Communication and Forte Medical was born.

"Peezy Midstream is the only urine collection method to meet Public Health England's UK Standards for Microbiology Investigation of Urine." NICE (National Institute for Clinical and Care Excellence)

Today, Peezy Midstream is a unique, patented device selling to customers in the USA where a Medicaid HCPCS (reimbursement) code offers physicians a rebate of between $48 and $63 to encourage them to adopt this essential practice that reduces retesting, repeat appointments and unnecessary antibiotic prescribing whilst delivering dignity and hygiene to women when providing an essential urine sample for diagnosis.

Extensive real-world evidence confirms the efficacy of our Peezy Midstream HealthTech, which will soon be developed into Peezy@home, the world's only patient-to-prescription diagnostic pathway, with right-first-time diagnosis and targeted treatment delivered to women who won't have to leave home to achieve good urological health.

Peezy First Stream is under development for STI diagnoses and identification of early-stage cancers such as prostate, bladder, ovarian and more. First-void urine has also been identified as an enabler for menopause management.

Forte Medical seeks investment for global growth and new product development with an enhanced leadership team to establish licensing opportunities around the world.

Did you always see yourself as an entrepreneur?

Of course! I come from a family of entrepreneurs who built hugely successful businesses in catering and hospitality starting with ice-cream parlours in Scotland. From the age of 10 I cleared tables and washed up at my father's restaurants in Brighton, and understood that self-employment would provide me with the most rewarding future.

From a very young age, I never saw myself as an employee, but as an entrepreneur with the ability and vision to build businesses in any area of the industry that I chose to address.

Everything is possible.

What have been your biggest challenges and how have you overcome them?

Funding is the most challenging aspect of business growth. With less than 2% of investment going to female founders, I find the funding given to male-led businesses that lack the vision and capacity to build a better world hugely frustrating.

I have single-handedly raised £4.3m for Forte Medical through friends, family and Angel investor contacts. Now we need Series A £2m to become a truly global business based on a licensing model with low overheads and significant profit.

When did you join BAWE and why?

I was invited to a BAWE Christmas lunch in 2019 and was impressed with the women I met there, the range of businesses they had founded, their successes and their willingness to nurture, encourage and help a newcomer in their midst.

The invitation to become joint Vice President within two years of my membership was a huge honour and privilege.

How has being a member of BAWE helped you?

Every BAWE meeting comes rich with offers of introductions, advice, encouragement and more. I have been connected to healthcare professionals, potential investors and media contacts by fellow BAWE members whose generosity of support is extraordinary. I love my BAWE colleagues and always try to pay forward any help that I can offer.

What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur?

Give yourself permission to succeed. You are the only person who can allow yourself to do what you really want. Doing what you most want will make you happy and when you are happy, almost everything else falls into place. Never let yourself be persuaded to do something that your gut tells you is not right.

Simply: if you don't impress yourself, why should anyone else be impressed? Be ambitious, be proud and believe that there is no such thing as a problem unless it really (really) cannot be solved. Ergo: there are very very few real problems in business or in life.

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