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After spending 20 years in and around operating rooms, Mike McGowan knew eye surgeons needed better instruments. So in 2002, he launched Innovatech Surgical, Inc., a specification developer of both reusable and disposable surgical devices.

Innovatech designs and develops its own surgical devices, usually in conjunctin with the end user, a vitreoretinal surgeon, and then outsources the manufacture of those devices to an accredited facility. Their products include special alligator forceps, curved scissors and laser probes.

At first McGowan worked out of his house. But soon the growing business developed needs that couldn’t be met in a home office. McGowan contacted the Rutgers-Camden Business Incubator and joined the other entrepreneurs on the Rutgers Camden Technology Campus.

“The incubator has been a great resource,” McGowan said.

The incubator provided such business basics as a receptionist, a conference room, a large capacity copy machine, Internet services, a nearby cafeteria and inexpensive rent. Plus, McGowan said he learned from the incubator managers and colleagues about additional financial resources to pursue.

“They pointed me in the right direction,” McGowan said. Today, for example, Innovatech Surgical is a leading candidate for a $250,000 no-interest loan from the Springboard Fund.

The Springboard Fund originally was administered only by the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology. But in 2004, the Commission entered an agreement bringing the financial expertise and backing of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to the program.

Thanks to the facilities and support of the business incubator, McGowan said Innovatch Surgical is planning to build a production facility in Camden and to expand its four-person staff by more than 15 full-time positions in the upcoming year.

For now, however, Innovatech Surgical still calls the incubator home.

“We utilize everything that they provide,” McGowan said. “It’s great.”