Customer-oriented service through targeted matchmaking - Dr Willmar Schwabe and Pathmate Technologies launch mental health app

Celine Jörns

Success Stories

How can users of medicines be supported with digital services? With the new app Lasea® Ruhe-Coach, Dr Willmar Schwabe, a leading company in the research, development and production of herbal medicines, together with the German-Swiss start-up Pathmate Technologies, shows how it works. The successful cooperative project resulted from intensive collaboration with the 5-HT Digital Hub team.

Inner restlessness and poor sleep - more and more people are struggling with these problems. A new digital application has recently appeared in the app stores (here in Google Play and Apple App Store), which is intended to help people live more consciously and relaxed: the Lasea® Ruhe-Coach App. The application was launched only a few days ago by Dr Willmar Schwabe, and was developed together with the start-up Pathmate Technologies. The first user numbers and enthusiastic reviews show how well the app is already being received. But how did the development of the app and the cooperation between an established pharmaceutical company and a start-up actually come about? Time for a look back at the beginnings of the project...

Service-oriented further development of a brand - the initial situation 

How can we further increase the added value of a brand and the customer experience? How do we strengthen the service offerings? What digital solutions already exist around the topic of relaxation and sleep? Based on these questions, the collaboration between Dr Willmar Schwabe and the 5-HT Digital Hub Chemistry & Health started at the end of 2020. The focus is on the Lasea® brand, under which Dr Willmar Schwabe offers a herbal medicine that helps with inner restlessness, feelings of anxiety and the resulting sleep disorders. Through a digital add-on, the brand was to receive additional added value and the customer was to be given a new user experience. With the expertise of the 5-HT team, namely to find the best digital innovations, to initiate joint projects between companies and start-ups as well as to accompany them, Dr Willmar Schwabe was to be supported in achieving this goal. 

Individual matchmaking through scouting and sourcing of suitable start-ups 

"The first challenge was to identify relevant digital startup solutions from the global market in the broad scouting topic and to establish the corresponding contacts," reports Lisa Tschalenko, who actively conducted the scouting and sourcing of startups for the project. For this purpose, 5-HT prepared an individual scouting report that categorised and prioritised selected startups based on Dr Willmar Schwabe's requirements. Among the first 50 potentially suitable solutions of the individual scouting report were numerous apps with meditation applications, but also, for example, music audio books, relaxation and singing bowl apps. On the basis of the 5-HT Scouting, a joint evaluation took place. The ten start-ups that best matched Dr Willmar Schwabe's vision were then selected and given the chance to present their solutions to the pharmaceutical company. For this, they were intensively prepared by the 5-HT team.

"We were thrilled at how many different start-up solutions the high-quality scouting report from 5-HT was able to provide us with and gained a valuable first insight into which previously undiscovered but highly relevant players are also active in this market. On this basis, our internal project team was able to further explore the direction in which we envision the digital add-on for Lasea®," says Sofia Maiß, Expert Healthcare Innovation at Dr. Willmar Schwabe.

Exchange of ideas in intensive workshops

After individual pitch sessions, three start-ups went into the next round. Based on a catalogue of criteria from Dr. Willmar Schwabe's internal project team, 5-HT developed an intensive series of workshops in the summer of 2021, consisting of discussion and alignment workshops. Over a period of three months, Dr Willmar Schwabe exchanged ideas with the respective start-ups, led by 5-HT, in order to decide in the final which start-up was the most suitable.

The Way of the Perfect Match

Startup scouting, individual pitch sessions and an intensive series of workshops - in the end, Dr Willmar Schwabe's project team chose the startup Pathmate Technologies from Switzerland from a total of 50 startups. The project collaboration organised by 5-HT supported Dr Willmar Schwabe's careful considerations and evaluations.

Pathmate Technologies' mission is to provide individual and long-term support in everyday life for people with chronic diseases. The startup was founded in 2017 as a spin-off of the Center for Digital Health Interventions, a joint initiative of ETH Zurich and the University of St. Gallen. With its expertise in the development of digital and innovative coaching applications, Pathmate Technologies was able to convince and develop a suitable solution according to Schwabe's ideas. Based in Switzerland and Germany, the start-up has meanwhile landed a number of partners. Pathmate Technologies is not only convincing with its own digital coach "Manoa" for support in dealing with high blood pressure and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, but also with its Pathmate Technologies Lab, where the startup can develop individual digital solutions for companies based on their coaching technology and know-how. Working on the development of these solutions at Pathmate Technologies is a team of software developers, behavioural psychologists and data analysts. The broad expertise enables the team to combine behavioural psychology concepts, data-based insights and the latest technologies to support people in their daily lives in the best possible way to lead a healthy life.

"It became clear early on that Dr Willmar Schwabe and Pathmate Technologies share a similar vision, which is particularly important in such collaborations. Our coaching technology and know-how aligned very well with Dr Willmar Schwabe's requirements, which both 5-HT and Dr Willmar Schwabe quickly recognised. The collaboration with Dr Willmar Schwabe is also an absolute best practice example for us," says Michelle Heppler, co-founder and CCO at Pathmate Technologies.

Digital coach accompanies the brand Lasea® 

But what exactly is the Lasea® Rest Coach App as a result of the collaborative project? At the centre of the application is the interactive coach "Lea", which accompanies users individually in their everyday lives. There are exercises and methods for mental well-being and restful sleep. The app takes into account the user's personal situation and wishes in order to suggest suitable methods for relaxation. For this purpose, the user can talk to the coach via a chat and answer questions about his or her well-being and preferences. The application is available free of charge in all app stores.

"We know from market research that people affected by and using Lasea® have different coping strategies and a holistic approach to managing their symptoms such as restlessness, anxiety and the resulting sleep problems. So it makes sense to create a digital add-on to Lasea® that offers customers this holistic added value and accompanies them on the path to mental well-being," says Peter Markus, Director Global OTC/OTX Brand & Health Interest Strategy.

Lasea® Ruhe-Coach App

Digital innovation through cooperation

5-HT is also pleased about the successful matchmaking and the realisation of the project, which will make a further contribution to the digitalisation of the health industry.

"Congratulations to the project team of Dr. Willmar Schwabe on the successful launch of the Lasea® Rest Coach App. We are proud and grateful to have actively supported the launch with our services throughout the entire process from the idea to the realisation. Of course, we are also pleased with the Pathmate Technologies team, which won the race in the end and developed the right digital solution for Dr. Willmar Schwabe's products and ideas," says Lisa Tschalenko, Senior Ecosystem Manager Digital Health & Pharma 5-HT.

The successful cooperation between Dr Willmar Schwabe and Pathmate Technologies shows that cooperation between established companies and start-ups can greatly accelerate the implementation of suitable digital applications. The 5-HT Digital Hub acts as a central platform and offers active advice and support for both players with its services. 

Are you also looking for new impulses and digital innovations for your products? Then contact us at and write your own success story together with us. 

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