Recently came across 'Innocentive' covered in NYTimes.
InnoCentive is an online open innovation marketplace - a "problem solving" web site - that rewards smart people for good ideas. Companies and organizations (seekers) post problems (challenges) that they are unable to solve within their organization to people all over the world (solvers) who win cash prizes for resolving them. It is free to join and if your solution is chosen - you win. Awards range from $5,000 to $1,000,000.
You can use your knowledge and expertise to make a real difference and get paid for solving these problems too. Considering the vast pool of brilliant and creative people with varied expertise available to passionately solve real life problems in the world the success rate is bound to be good. I heard in the Business Week podcast that 40% of the problems are solved which is an exceptional number for the cost and resources.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee for president, has proposed that the government offer $300 million to whoever invents a battery compact enough, powerful enough and cheap enough to replace fossil fuels. (something similar to Innocentive)
To see the details of available Challenges and register with InnoCentive click here:
If you have the world's brightest minds solving your problem what more do you want?
Concepts like these will definitely help the world become a better place for all of us to live.