A joint venture between Trinity College (TCD) and University College Dublin (UCD) is likely to have a price tag of more than €1bn over a period of 10 years.
The alliance between the two universities, which was launched last March, was accompanied by claims that it could lead to the establishment of 300 new "high-value" companies over 10 years, creating up to 30,000 jobs by 2018.
According to a draft version of UCD's strategic plan to 2014, obtained by the Sunday Tribune, the cost of realising the UCD/TCD "innovation alliance" project is set at €650m over 10 years. But it could also involve significant extra investment from the private sector during that time.
"It is expected that significant industry and private funding will also be secured bringing the overall investment to in excess of €1bn by 2018," the document states.
"A key objective will be to ensure that the investment in science, technology and innovation is used efficiently and with maximum impact on enterprise development and job creation."
However, while the document notes that the €650m figure will be drawn from a "combination of sources, including committed government sources", it does not state to what extent the additional private-sector funding will be dependent on any upturn in the economy.
The alliance between the two universities has two major components –a joint venture in enterprise development and the establishment of a UCD/UCD fourth-level "innovation academy". The document also states that UCD has "commenced the process of identifying and developing key performance indicators for all its spheres of activity".
"Among the selected research indicators which will be applied when charting the progress of the plan's objectives are publications per staff in international peer-reviewed journals, citations per publication, and the percentage of 'research active staff'," it states.
In a covering letter accompanying the draft plan, UCD president Dr Hugh Brady notes that it was written "at a time of global economic turmoil and uncertainty".
"Our aim is nothing less than the formation of the minds of a new, globally focused generation of graduates... a defining characteristic is the commitment to establish innovation as a third, constitutive pillar of UCD's activity and identity," he adds.