Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Entrepreneurs and startups in North Carolina may soon have access to a new source of capital – the state’s retirement fund.

If the schedule as outlined in a is met, N.C. Treasurer Janet Cowell could announce a winning private sector firm – or firms – to manage a new $250 million state “Innovation Fund” on Tuesday.

Entrepreneurs and startups in the state have long complained about the lack of startup capital. Now a portion of the state’s $66 billion in public pension plan and other benefits could be used in a different way of generating returns under legislation passed by the general Assembly.

The terms of the RFP were pretty high. For example, hopefuls wanting to manage the state’s investment must have “at least $1 billion of total assets under management,” according to the RFP.

In addition to having ‘at least five years of experience” in direct or co-investments, the winner also must have worked with “25 or more private companies with significant operations in North Carolina.”

The Treasury department also wants a firm with “board private equity investment experience, including multiple industries and multiple investment categories” such as venture capital, growth equity and buyouts.

RFP respondents will be evaluated in six different areas:

Firm background and investment philosophy, process and capabilities (60 percent)

• Performance (20 percent)

• Fee proposal (20 percent)

• Conflict of interest and compliance (5 percent)

• References (5 percent)

• Quality, clarity and adherence to the RFP (10 percent)

This isn’t the first time state-related funds have been set aside for private sector investments since Golden LEAF also has backed a venture effort. Golden LEAF uses funds awarded the state through the national tobacco settlement.

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