Classroom Standing Desk Creator Receives 2018 Innovation Award


By Texas A&M University Research Communications

Texas A&M Technology Commercialization (TTC) presented its 2018 Innovation Award to a Texas A&M University associate professor whose ergonomically-designed standing desks are used by more than 100,000 school children around the world.

Given during TTC’s annual Patent and Innovation Awards Luncheon at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center in the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M on May 17, the award recognizes researchers whose work exemplifies the spirit of innovation within The Texas A&M University System.

Fifty-eight Patent Awards went to 48 faculty members and other researchers from the A&M System whose inventions received protection from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office during 2017. The honorees represent Texas A&M, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Dallas-based law firm Winstead served as the event’s underwriting sponsor.

Since 2006, Texas A&M has formally incorporated commercialization into the criteria for granting tenure to its faculty members. TTC works with faculty and other researchers to secure patents to protect their inventions; establish productive relationships with business and industry; negotiate agreements to license innovations, for production and distribution; and in some cases establish start-up companies to manufacture and market their inventions.

“Innovation needs someone to shepherd it through the multiple valleys of death we face on our way to commercialization and the marketplace,” Texas A&M Vice President for Research Mark A. Barteau said in his remarks. “Our researchers here at Texas A&M are fortunate to benefit from the expertise they receive from our technology commercialization office.”

TTC’s Innovation Award went to Mark E. Benden, an associate professor in the School of Public Health, where he directs the Ergonomics Center and serves as head of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. Benden is also the founder of Stand2Learn, a faculty-led startup company acquired earlier this year by Varidesk, a Dallas-area manufacturer of adjustable standing desks. With a design based on ergonomic research, Stand2Learn makes standup classroom desks and stools. Benden’s desks are found inside schools in 50 U.S. states and 13 other nations

During Benden’s 25-year career in occupational safety and ergonomics, he has produced multiple processes, tools and devices that reduce the risk of injury or illness. TTC has licensed seven of Benden’s inventions since he joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2008. In all, Benden holds 21 U.S. patents with several others pending. His patented items have generated more than $500 million in total sales and are expected to generate more than $2 billion before the patents expire.

About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to scholarship and discovery, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $905.4 million in fiscal year 2017. Texas A&M ranked in the top 20 of the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development survey (2016), based on expenditures of more than $892.7 million in fiscal year 2016. Texas A&M’s research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting, in many cases, in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit


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