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Commercializing Research to Improve Health Outcomes for Pregnant Women

Research that Impacts Lives


Rachel Tinius poses outdoors in workout gear.

Dr. Rachel Tinius fell in love with studying the impact exercise can have on health outcomes for pregnant women and their babies when she worked as a graduate assistant on a pregnancy study. Building upon that work in her dissertation, Tinius began to look for ways her research could make a direct impact on the lives of the pregnant women that sparked her passion. “My dissertation research was really cool, but it wasn’t directly impacting people,” she said. “I wanted to do something where I’m changing women’s lives and making them healthier.”



As associate professor at Western Kentucky University (WKU), Tinius gathered additional data about the barriers pregnant women face when it comes to physical activity. “There was a lack of knowledge about physical activity when you’re pregnant, especially in rural areas,” she said. That’s why she created BumptUp, an app providing physical activity guidance to pregnant and postpartum women.


BumptUp logo featuring a heart and exercise weights

Tinius envisioned a digital platform with education, exercises and resources that could reach women no matter where they were but was hesitant to commercialize her idea. “I was really resistant to it for a long time because I’m not a business person,” she explained. “But I realized I can spend 10, 20 years working on something, and if I don’t commercialize it, nobody sees it. And if nobody sees it, it doesn’t actually help anybody.”


"I realized I can spend 10, 20 years working on something, and if I don’t commercialize it, nobody sees it. And if nobody sees it, it doesn’t actually help anybody.”

Navigating the Commercialization Process

Tinius wasn’t sure where to start when it came to commercializing her research. That’s when she turned to Kentucky Commercialization Ventures (KCV), which provides commercialization resources to higher education institutions without a dedicated technology transfer office. “We don’t have an office of tech transfer at WKU,” Tinius explained. “Very few people were pursuing these things when I started – more are now, which is great to see.”


Tinius first met KCV when the team visited WKU to talk about the KYNETIC award. KCV followed BumptUp’s progress through initial app development and an NIH-funded pilot study, providing Tinius with one-on-one support for her initial disclosure and coaching through the UAccel program.


“There have been so many situations where I would have had no idea how to navigate it independently."

She credits the KCV team’s expertise for the successful execution of a licensing agreement between her company, BumptUp Labs, and WKU in 2023. “There have been so many situations where I would have had no idea how to navigate it independently,” she said. “Having people who have done it before and know the nuances was invaluable.”


Translating Research to a Public Platform

This is just the beginning for BumptUp. Tinius has been working with an app development company with help from funding through KCV’s IMPACT Award, a $25,000 prize she was awarded in 2022.


A woman exercises outdoors with her child

A public launch for the app is planned for October 2023. She is also pursuing SBIR/STTR funding through the NIH, completing her proposal in September 2023 with the help of KSTC’s Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation initiative.


“This process has brought so many people from different areas of expertise together, and I think that is what is special about commercializing something in academics. You can’t be an expert in everything.”

Tinius recognizes that support from Kentucky’s innovation ecosystem has been critical to turning her research into an impactful app. “This process has brought so many people from different areas of expertise together, and I think that is what is special about commercializing something in academics,” she said. “You can’t be an expert in everything.”


 

Learn how you can empower ideas that impact lives by contacting the KCV team.

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