GlaxoSmithKline is looking to fatten its drug pipeline through another venture capital investment with a $50 million commitment to a California fund.

The drug giant on Wednesday said it would invest in the $250 million Sanderling Biotech Venture Fund. The fund will be managed out of San Mateo, Calif.

The commitment is one of several made by GSK (NYS: GSK) to several funds focused on helping emerging and early-stage companies advancing potential drug candidates. 

GSK Chief Executive Officer Andrew Witty’s growth strategy calls for Glaxo to rely more on investments and partners in seeking new products.

Melinda Stubbee, a GSK spokeswoman, confirmed the investment with Bloomberg in a phone interview. Glaxo, the only large pharmaceutical company investing in the fund, will have a seat on the limited partner advisory committee, she said.

The new fund fills a geographic gap in Glaxo’s early-stage investments, which include funds on the East Coast, in Europe and in Canada, Stubbee said. It also serves to encourage innovation in an area where investments have dwindled, given risks and long-term horizons for returns.

“Venture money has really dried up since the economy has suffered,” she said.

Sanderling has supported more than 90 startup biomedical companies since being founded in 1979.

In March, Glaxo and Johnson & Johnson said they will each contribute $50 million to a fund managed by Index Ventures, which invests in early-stage companies in Europe, the U.S. and Israel. That came after Glaxo set up a $50 million Life Sciences Innovation Fund in Canada in November 2011.

Glaxo also has a corporate venture capital arm called SR One, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that invests in about 30 public and private companies.

GSK operates its North American headquarters in RTP.

[GSK ARCHIVE: Check out 10 years of GSK stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]

(Bloomberg contributed to this report.)