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School & Program Updates

Texas A&M Start-Up Company Showcases Standing Desks on National Stage

Stand2Learn, a startup company based on the work of Dr. Mark Benden, associate professor in environmental health & occupational safety at the Texas A&M School of Public Health and CEO of Stand2Learn, represented Texas A&M University at the inaugural University Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) Showcase in Washington, DC in mid-November.

[Photo: Dr. Mark Benden]

Stand2Learn, which provides health-based designed standing desk and ergonomic solutions for schools and other education venues, was one of 22 companies participating in the showcase, which was hosted by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).

“I feel we were chosen because we used our funded research to develop a stand-biased desk that creates benefits for all children, not just a select, narrow market,” Dr. Benden said. “Honestly it is a simple concept that has created a new market in the industry. It’s very exciting!”

Dr. Benden first studied the benefits of using stand-biased desks in the workplace before becoming interested in their effects on students. Subsequent research he and his colleagues performed found that not only do stand-biased desks lead to improved BMI (Body Mass Index) in children, they also improve the students’ cognitive functioning. Stand-biased desks, often simply called standing desks, allow the user to sit or stand at intervals throughout the day, often including a tall stool or the ability to raise or lower the desk surface.

While they were in the capital, Stand2Learn participated in the National Convocation on Revitalizing the University-Industry-Government Partnership hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. They shared their story of being a faculty-led start up, emphasizing the importance of grant opportunities to research and ultimately commercialization.

Their ultimate goal of publicizing stand-biased desks is to gain recognition of the childhood obesity epidemic, create a new mindset that change is needed to our sedentary culture and lead a paradigm shift to a new way of thinking about “activity permissive learning environments,” or APLE, Dr. Benden said.  When children are in APLEs, they are free to wiggle, fidget, stand or sit as they prefer.

“It’s thrilling to see people interested in my research and the product that came out of it,” Dr. Benden added. “It’s a wonderful example of what we’re doing here at Texas A&M, bringing empirically tested ideas to the marketplace.”