Hiroshi "Mickey" Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten, Inc.

To generate great innovation in a global marketplace, you must source innovation talent from around the world.

Rakuten recently opened new research centers in Boston and Singapore. The Boston-based site will focus on machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence. The Singapore branch will focus on mobile and social innovations. They join our existing research posts in New York, Tokyo and Paris. Our research centers help develop new innovations by collaborating with universities and companies and recruiting researchers for special projects.

This can’t be done from one location. A world-class innovation program requires a worldwide innovation network.

It was not always this way for Rakuten. In the beginning, our innovation team was part of our Tokyo headquarters. To keep our technology in a constant state of improvement, in the early years of our company I launched a division of the company called Rakuten Institute of Technology. This collection of engineers, designers and computer specialists was charged with the task of coming up with the new ideas, the innovations that would propel our company, our industry and our customers forward.

In many ways, RIT was the fire under the feet of our technology. Even as our technology helped us to achieve new success, the ideas coming out of RIT said clearly: More can be done. There is room for improvement.

This remains true as innovation continues to be a driving force. RIT now consists of more than 50 researchers from Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, England, France, Spain, Norway, Poland, Turkey, and the U.S.

With innovation at a premium, the search for the next big thing must be global.