This technical note examines how innovative products and services can be developed in public and private weather services. The lean startup methodology described in detail by Reis (2011) is an essential tool that supports an entrepreneurial business, applicable to any sector—government, private, academic, non-profit. The weather enterprise must continue to innovate and expand to keep people safe from disruptive weather, and to keep up with the demand for weather intelligence for economic development. Despite considerable scientific and technical advances, underinvestment in services, coupled with poor regulation and business practices, prevents the enterprise from fully protecting developing economies. New approaches are needed.
The note concludes that the lean startup can be used for internal development or external products. The approach can help the weather enterprise expand to meet the demands of users and customers, particularly where the national institutions need significant strengthening, and where the private sector weather services are nascent. Incorporating the lean startup methodology into major development partners’ investments in the NMHSs and disaster risk reduction may be a way to significantly enhance the delivery of services without requiring a complete overhaul of the investment process. How would this work within a development project cycle? To complement and improve the design of the development project with the help of innovations such as the lean startup would most likely require grant-funding instruments. Potential innovations should start prior to final project design so that promising activities are included in it. The need for flexibility of procurement is another constraint.