The Nanopore Community philosophy
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. The GridION and PromethION devices are also now available to scientists.
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 mainly been used in tech, where technologies 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 sequencing 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.
Commercially available since 2015, and still a community
As the performance of nanopore technology has dramatically advanced, the thriving community of users continue to collaborate, develop tools and applications that expand the use of nanopore sequencing. The online community affords multiple opportunities for collaboration, and community meetings are held so that collaborations can continue in real life.