Inx Venture Capital will be jointly managed by Touchdown Ventures and is set to support entrepreneurs working on ink and coating-related technologies.

US-based printing ink and coating manufacturer Inx International Ink formed a $50m corporate venture capital (CVC) vehicle yesterday having teamed up with CVC-as-a-service group Touchdown Ventures.

Inx Venture Capital will operate on a stage-agnostic basis, identifying and backing materials science technology startups that are generating revenue and have strategic significance to the company’s main business. The fund’s areas of focus will include sustainability, circular economy, digital printing, manufacturing automation and brand owner services.

The unit, which will invest globally with an emphasis on North America, Europe and South America, is set to focus on early-stage companies but will also selectively participate in seed and growth-stage rounds. Its initial cheque sizes will range from $1m to $3m, with possible follow-on investments.

Scott Lenet, co-founder and president of Touchdown Ventures who was part of Global Corporate Venturing’s Powerlist 2020, will help lead the unit’s investment efforts. “Inx is a very interesting corporation that flies under the radar,” Lenet told GCV.

“It’s not a well-known company like some of Touchdown’s other consumer brand corporate partners, such as T-Mobile, Kellogg, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Olympus, or others. But their products and services touch everyone’s lives, particularly in the Americas and Europe, and we are enthusiastic about the opportunity to use the new CVC fund to help them continue to innovate and grow, especially in a sustainable way.”

Will Geiger, a director at Touchdown Ventures who featured GCV’s Rising Stars 2021 roster when he was a principal, will join Lenet to manage the fund. “Industrial businesses can support a surprising variety of startups, so we believe there’s a basis for a very interesting, diversified venture capital portfolio with the Inx fund,” according to Geiger. “Everything from factory automation, to novel materials, to sustainability solutions, and brand services are all in scope for this innovation effort.”

Shane Bertsch, vice-president of strategic planning and innovation at Inx International Ink, added: “Our CVC programme represents an expansion of INX’s innovation toolkit, furthering our mission of leading the printing inks and coatings industry in delivering safe and sustainable solutions that enhance the customer experience.”

Inx International Ink is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan-headquartered ink producer Sakata Inx Corporation. The parent firm has conducted some corporate venturing in Japan, and its portfolio companies include LED signage mounting technology developer Wonder Future Corporation and Salus Lab, a plant-derived healthful food material provider spun out of Osaka Metropolitan University.