Innovation Clinic—Significant Achievements for 2019-20

The Innovation Clinic enjoyed a very successful and productive academic year, representing startup and venture capital clients in a broad array of industries on an even broader array of matters. During this year, the 10 Innovation Clinic students completed approximately 40 projects, a testament to their drive and work ethic in the face of unprecedented, pandemic-related challenges. This year, we assisted clients operating in verticals as diverse as insurance, 3D printing, clinical trial design, sports, MRI software, senior care, cleantech, telehealth, industrial manufacturing, social media, medical device production, clothing and apparel, and many more. A representative sample of projects undertaken by the Innovation Clinic this year includes:

Transactional/Commercial Work

  • Drafted and negotiated documentation, including an amended and restated operating agreement, grant agreements, and closing deliverables, in connection with the hiring of a new full-time team member for a startup developing software for better detection of prostate cancer in MRI images.
  • Drafted and negotiated documentation related to the formation of legal entities, or conversion of legal entities from one form to another, including consulting on structural decisions as to equity allocations, voting rights, distributions and contributions, for LLCs and corporations. Clients included a startup developing a platform for cleantech Internet of Things deployments, a telehealth startup, and a small business that assists seniors with budgeting and financial planning.
  • Prepared privacy policies and terms of service for new social media platforms and online retailers.
  • Drafted service agreements to be used with customers and vendors for clients such as a startup that delivers specialty groceries to immigrants looking for foods and ingredients that are hard to find in the United States, and a startup that pairs students with senior citizens to help seniors with chores and tech learning.
  • Drafted forms of independent contractor agreements, sponsorship agreements, resale agreements and non-disclosure agreements for many different clients.

Regulatory Research and Advice

  • Researched the home rule arrangements and state building codes of all 50 states, including many related local and federal laws, to determine whether a 3D printing startup that prints single family homes quickly and cheaply could operate in those states as the statutes exist today. After completing the initial research, students then performed a comprehensive review of the executive branch and legislative processes to amend statutes that would not currently allow for such construction methods at both the local and state levels, and analyzed meeting minutes, legislative records, and other available information to assess how difficult or straightforward those processes had been for similarly situated companies in the past. This work culminated in our delivery of a report to our client, a venture capital investor in the startup, detailing a proposed product rollout strategy for the immediate term, and proposed legislative advocacy strategy for the medium to long term.
  • Researched federal and select states’ criminal procedure laws and requirements related to sexual assault examination kits, hearsay, evidence collection and chain of custody to advise on product design and rollout for a client developing a sexual assault evidence examination kit that can be administered by a sexual assault victim in the privacy of their own home.  While the client initially experienced pushback from law enforcement agencies in many states due to admissibility concerns, the COVID-19 pandemic created an opportunity as many hospitals became unable or unwilling to see sexual assault victims in person due to risk of infection. When this opportunity arose, law enforcement agencies that permitted the use of the product in their jurisdictions did so using many of the Innovation Clinic’s recommendations as to how the product could be designed to ensure admissibility of evidence collected using the kits. Students also researched consumer protection laws in select states to advise the client as to the efficacy of disclaimers on the kits in those states.
  • Researched current securities laws to advise a client intending to create a secondary market for alternative investments as to the best way to design that secondary market.
  • Advised a startup client that was negotiating a Series A term sheet with one of China’s largest venture capital firms as to whether the investment would be subject to review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Researched variable interest entities and the risks associated with them, China’s New Foreign Investment Law, Chinese employment restrictions and other applicable law to advise the client as to whether to continue operating in China.


  • Presented at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and at the Chain Reaction Innovations program at Argonne National Laboratories on topics such as entity formation, intellectual property considerations for startups and employment law basics.
  • Performed mock legal diligence on each company in the Polsky Incubator program to advise each startup as to potential issues that could arise in connection with diligence in a priced round, and then remedied those issues or coached clients on how to do so.
  • Enabled one of our clients to attain Qualified New Business Venture status in Illinois, making the client more attractive to investors in the state.

The Innovation Clinic is grateful to all of its clients for continuing to provide its students with challenging, high-quality legal work. Our clients are breaking the mold and bringing innovations to market that will improve the lives of people around the world in numerous ways, including underserved populations both here and abroad. We are glad to aid in their success in any way that we can. We look forward to another productive year in 2020-2021!