Work on clusters during the last few decades convincingly demonstrates enhanced opportunities for local growth and entrepreneurship, but external upstream knowledge linkages are often overlooked or taken for granted. This article is an attempt to remedy this situation by investigating why and how young, single-site firms search for distant sources of complementary competences. The discussion is positioned within a comprehensive framework that allows a systematic investigation of the approaches available to firms engaged in globally extended learning. By utilizing the distinction between problem awareness (what remote knowledge is needed?) and source awareness (where does this knowledge reside?) the article explores the relative merits and inherent limitations of pipelines, listening posts, crowdsourcing and trade fairs to acquire knowledge and solutions from geographically and relationally remote sources.