The MinION was made available to an early access community through the Nanopore Community in Spring 2014. It was made commercially available in May 2015. People wishing to use the MinION now buy a Starter Pack for $1,000 and join the Nanopore Community.
History of the Nanopore Community
With the Nanopore Community, Oxford Nanopore stepped away from traditional commercial processes, where a product is launched with support from a privileged few rather than experience and contribution from the innovative masses. Developer programmes have recently been used in a variety of industries. For example, in consumer electronics products such as the Pebble Smartwatch, Oculus Rift, Metawatch, LeapMotion and Xbox games were initially released to a select community for open development. Under these programmes, the products have been improved rapidly in response to community feedback and users have driven the creation of many new applications unanticipated by the manufacturers.
Similarly, Oxford Nanopore does not suggest to its user community what types of applications they should be exploring; it is up to those users to explore how the system may best benefit them. We have always believed that those who are interested in MinION are also motivated by exploring and developing new sensing applications and methods that are not accomplished easily, or cost effectively, on existing technologies. This was confirmed by the broad range of proposals suggested by the first Nanopore Community applicants and the diverse range of uses that are now emerging in publications.
Oxford Nanopore therefore made its nanopore technology available under this broad access programme which allows scientists to develop sensing applications such as DNA sequencing on our proprietary platform. The Nanopore Community encourages and enables open development. ‘Hacking’ of sample preparation, run conditions and analysis software is both enabled and encouraged. Our objective is to enable scientists to fit our platform technology to their applications rather than force scientists to fit their diverse applications to a prescriptive platform.
Transition to commercial availability
Users of the MinION now purchase a starter pack and enter the Nanopore Community. Open development is assisted by community forums with candid feedback and the rapid exchange of ideas. Participants have few restrictions on public disclosures about their use of MinION.