Universities could cash in under plans to fund research projects through the issue of Eurobonds.
Centre-left politicians in Italy have suggested that cash could be raised by the sale of bonds issued by the European Investment Bank. They hope to interest European political allies in the scheme, perhaps suggesting it as part of a platform for the elections to the European parliament in June.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Trade and Industry, which includes the Office for Science and Technology, said that ministers would be interested in any proposal that offered more resources for science research.
The outline proposal comes from Walter Veltroni, secretary to the largest party in the Italian coalition government, and his economic councillor, Marco Causi, economics professor at La Sapienza University in Rome.