Where do good ideas come from? For Global 500 companies, the answer could be anyplace.
By Patricia Sellers

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Operating globally involves more than reaching out to far-flung locales for needy customers, low-cost labor, and ready capital. The smartest companies are looking far afield for innovation as well. General Electric chief Jeff Immelt talks about "reaching out to try to multiply ideas." Another CEO renowned for his peripheral vision, Procter & Gamble's A.G. Lafley, has pumped up R&D productivity by co-developing brands with other companies around the globe. "Expanding our innovative capacity is at the heart of our growth strategy," Lafley says. Other companies on FORTUNE's Global 500 list, such as Boeing and Microsoft and Pfizer, are collaborating with engineers and scientists in India and China and Russia. Why reach out to incubate ideas? Says Forrester Research CEO George Colony: "There's simply not enough qualified talent at home for global companies to keep pace." While Forrester estimates that only 5% of FORTUNE Global 500 companies have truly taken their innovation global, more will need to in the future. On the following pages, you will read about five companies that get it--and are getting growth by innovating globally.--Patricia Sellers