Colorcon, which develops colorants, coatings, and films for pharmaceutical giants, has a new $50 million fund

Connie Loizos – Colorcon, a 58-year-old company that develops, supplies, and supports specialty products for the pharmaceutical industry — think food colorants, nutritional coatings, the film on time-release medications — is getting into the business of funding startups.

It isn’t bringing aboard any traditional venture investors or taping off a corner of its Harleysville, Pa., offices so a team of staffers can meet with startups. Colorcon knows what it doesn’t know, suggests its CEO, Martti Hedman. “We’re a team of 750 people, so we didn’t want to invest in our own VC team. We’re sort of too small for that, too inexperienced.”

Instead, Colorcon, which wants to plug $50 million into startups, has elected to outsource its venture operations to a low-flying but growing outfit in San Francisco called Touchdown Ventures that helps manage the corporate venture activities of a dozen companies already, including the multinational food company Kellogg’s, the media giant 21st Century Fox, and the adhesive manufacturing company Avery Dennison.

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