If you have experience in chemistry and/or the life sciences, you can help advance science and technology (and make a little bit of money) through a website called InnoCentive.
The InnoCentive site allows businesses or non-profit organizations to post research "challenges" with a prize award. Registered users can view the details of the challenges and can attempt to solve them in order to win the offered prize (which, at this time, range from $10,000 to about a million dollars).
Challenges include such things as:
- A method is needed to create a highly energetic crystalline polyethylene surface that has increased wettability properties. ($15,000)
- Identification of a non-animal base water insoluble material for use as a shell, and processes to utilize such a shell to make crushable capsules, are desired. ($50,000)
- A high yield process for the synthesis of 3-alkyl thiophene oligomer with a narrow molecular weight distribution is desired. ($15,000)
- A biomarker for measuring disease progression in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease/ Motorneuron Disease) is needed. ($1 million)
- Plastic trays must be transferred from ambient conditions into and out of a pressurized, high temperature atmosphere at production speeds. ($20,000)
So if you have experience in any of these areas (and the equipment you'd need to do the work), you can earn some extra money, help a company prosper, and advance the state of science and technology, all at the same time.