This is one of those projects that can only be done by companies that have money, lots and lots of glorious money.
So once again it's the time of year where Google run their Summer Of Code mentoring program.
Basically it's this super cool concept where Google offer $4,500 to students who want to develop code over their summer break.
The great part about it is that the code is then released for free to the Open Source community as code that anyone can use/implement.
The kids get work experience and real world coding knowledge, the mentoring managers get code developed for free (lol - and $500 for incidental expenses) and everyone benefits.
In case you are an applicable student (and it's not just US students - over 29 countries participated last year), then the FAQ is here http://studentfaq.html and there are a list of suggested projects here http://summerofcode.html
One of my favourite open source projects MythTV is participating and have a number of suggested ideas that they are looking for development on http://mythtv/SoC2006
Also in case you are wondering, here are some of the results from last years SOC 2005
It's pretty much what you expect, some fail miserably, some results are average but more often than not some work out great and provide new thinking and ideas for future development.