Nanopore DNA Sequencing technology MinION access program

Your guide to the MinIONTM Access Programme

I got this invitation and I think this is perfect Hive project. this is a new cutting edge technology that is expected to be widely used in future and is perfect time to play with as there are lots of enhancements that can be made.

This document is intended for people who have been invited to join the MinION Access programme.

Welcome to the MAP
Oxford Nanopore is making its nanopore technology available under a pre-commercial and broad early access programme. The MinION™ Access Programme (MAP) allows scientists to develop sensing applications such as DNA sequencing on our proprietary platform. The MAP 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. Open development is assisted by community forums with candid feedback and the rapid exchange of ideas.

Similar developer programmes have recently been used in other industries. For example, in consumer electronics products such as the Pebble Smartwatch, Metawatch, LeapMotion and Xbox games* have been 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.

However, this approach is less traditional in life science technology and so Oxford Nanopore is providing this guide to inform early MAP participants of what to expect. We would like each person invited to join the MAP to understand fully the mechanics and the philosophy of the programme before committing a deposit and valuable time.

Oxford Nanopore anticipates that there will be rapid improvement of MinION device performance and associated applications during the MAP. Participants will have access to these improvements in new releases of kits, flow cells and software which will be detailed in the Community.

If, after reading this guide you would prefer not to take part in the MAP or to delay participation until a later date, we will be happy to hold a space for you. You can also withdraw from the MAP at any time and reclaim your deposit.

The MAP philosophy
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 MAP applicants.

During the MAP, Oxford Nanopore will provide open support and training through This is community-based support rather than traditional individual support. Introducing the MinION device in this open developer format does mean there are some key points that we recommend you consider before formally registering for the MAP:

  • MinION performance depends on application and can be varied according to how the instrument is run. Guidelines will be published on how to run the systems but important variables include the following; not all will be controllable by users during the first MAP cycle:
  • Speed of individual nanopore processing. During the first MAP cycle Oxford Nanopore recommends a speed of under 30 bases per second per nanopore, however it is anticipated that this speed will be increased throughout MAP. Speed is affected by multiple factors including buffers, temperature and the motor enzyme deployed
  • Your sample preparation, the properties of the sample and the length of DNA fragments presented to the MinION
  • The length of time for which the MinION is run; MAP participants will be challenged to achieve the longest run duration
  • Treatment of the output data. Oxford Nanopore provides signal processing and base-calling tools, but file formats are documented and participants can write their own data analysis tools or modify the scripts provided in the GitHub repository. Sources for any software are provided on an ‘as-is’ and ‘without warranties’ basis
  • Oxford Nanopore requires participants to conduct ‘Burn-in’ experiments. These are generic control experiments that Oxford Nanopore runs internally as a matter of routine. The purpose of these ‘Burn-in’ runs is to enable participants to master the technology and fully understand it from end-to-end without the complication of novel biology. Importantly, participants should feel confident in the operation of the system before moving on to more complicated experiments
  • When conducting the Burn-in experiments you will be asked to decide whether the performance you observe is appropriate for your own purposes. If it is, you will be asked to formally notify Oxford Nanopore that you have completed the Burn-in phase and you will then be free to discuss subsequent technical results in public. If it is not, you have the option to repeat Burn-in experiments leveraging knowledge from the MAP community, or you can choose to exit the MAP and reclaim your deposit. You will be able to share your Burn-in results at if you would like to discuss and debug your experiments with other MAP participants and Oxford Nanopore’s internal scientists
  • For sequencing applications, Oxford Nanopore’s base-calling tools output standard Fast(A/Q) files. Our read lengths can be extremely long and participants should be aware that commonly available bioinformatics tools may not work optimally with Oxford Nanopore data. Consideration should therefore be given to your bioinformatics support and custom tool development. While Oxford Nanopore is developing novel bioinformatics tools (some in collaboration with academic institutes), these are not yet widely available to the MAP participants. We anticipate that community-developed tools will be generated throughout MAP. Oxford Nanopore plans to recognise participants for the most significant contributions from the community

Your Journey through the MAP
Your participation in the MAP includes at least one MinION device and, for each MinION, a supply of free MinION™ Flow Cells for the duration of your participation in the MAP. For purely logistical reasons, these components are delivered in MAP cycles and in the first cycle participants will receive a minimum of four flow cells. At the end of each cycle a participant can choose whether to stay in the MAP and continue to receive flow cells or exit the MAP and reclaim the deposit.

The diagram below describes your journey through your first MAP cycle. If you have received an invitation to join the first wave of the MAP then you will also receive login details in a separate email.

As the person who submitted the MAP application, you are a ‘MAP leader’. This means that if you are working with a team, it is your responsibility to pay the deposit and track the deliveries within the MAP. We can supply additional ‘MAP participant’ logins for your colleagues upon your request but they will only have access to the information, resources, support and communities section of the site and so will not be able to order or track MAP items.

Some important notes about the MAP process

  • We recognise that participants will progress through the MAP cycle at their own speed. To facilitate delivery of the MAP materials in a timely manner, we have incorporated notifications which you will need to send to us at the end of the configuration phase, Burn-in and a mid-cycle return of flow cells. Please note that if you don’t complete the notifications within then your subsequent deliveries may be delayed.

  • We will first provide the configuration pack: MinION device, USB cable and a Configuration Test Cell. A delivery will then be made of sequencing kits, a wash kit to enable multi-sample usage of MinION™ Flow Cells, returns kits and two experimental flow cells. This will enable Burn-in experiments. You will start to return used flow cells and then a second delivery of a further two flow cells will be made. The supply of these items, the items, the return materials and the returns process make up the MAP package. There will be opportunities to order additional top-up flow cells from the shop if you want to run further experiments within the timeframe of the MAP.

  • To pay the deposit and delivery charges you will need either a credit card or purchase order document that includes a PO number. The charge per MAP package is $1,000 deposit (covers all MAP cycles) + $250* delivery (for the first MAP cycle) + taxes where relevant e.g. customs clearance. The delivery charge includes multiple deliveries throughout the cycle and returns packs.

  • delivery charges subject to change dependent on country

Applications: supported or self-supported?
MinION is provided for research use only. Some existing protocols will be provided along with the relevant sample preparation kits, including: gDNA, cDNA and PCR product/Amplicon Sequencing. However, to reiterate, you are encouraged to develop your own versions of these and other protocols for any application of interest to you.

If you wish to use MinION to explore other applications, you are encouraged to do so; however, Oxford Nanopore will provide only limited support that will initially focus on the core platform performance. The range of supported applications is likely to expand through MAP.

IT and software
We have supplied separately an IT requirements document; please read this carefully. Key points include:

  • The laptop/PC specification is not necessarily standard; please review this carefully as you may need to source additional IT equipment to participate in MAP. Macs are not yet fully supported.
  • In order to run MinKNOW™ (the instrument software) you will need a continuous Internet connection of a certain specification. MinKNOW will upload report metrics to Oxford Nanopore so that we are better able to troubleshoot and deliver improvements. We will not receive or keep a copy of your biological results, merely diagnostic statistics on your MinION performance.
  • Oxford Nanopore provides basecalling via its cloud Metrichor™ service Your MinION is configured to exploit this feature provided you have a good enough Internet connection. Again, no biological data is stored or recorded. Source code will be provided and users can base-call on their own computers. In this case the sources are on an ‘as-is’ and ‘without warranties’ basis. Custom data processing pipeline developers must support their own software.

Training and customer support:
As part of MAP you will be provided with a basic support package consisting of free login to At this site you will be able to track your journey through the MAP, pay the MAP deposit, track deliveries, access support materials, ask questions of Oxford Nanopore support staff and your MAP colleagues, enter discussions within provided community forums and organise return of used flow cells. Additional levels of paid-for support may be offered during the MAP.

Key points:

  • As mentioned we encourage use of to share experiences. If you have positive experiences we would be delighted if you shared them. If you have negative feedback, we intend to listen and respond. However, you will be expected to follow an Acceptable Use policy that does not allow abusive behaviour, commercial promotion or certain other contributions
  • After notifying Oxford Nanopore that Burn-in results meet experimental requirements, participants may wish to share their results at scientific conferences, as submissions for manuscript publications or on social media. Please refer to the publication guide for the MAP for guidelines
  • If you use others’ contributions in scientific presentations or publications, you are expected to acknowledge them accordingly
  • If you prefer to contribute to anonymously, we will provide a mechanism for this.
  • NanoporeOnline will include contributions from Oxford Nanopore support staff via the forums and Q&A with additional email support available. Oxford Nanopore will not be offering site support visits or phone support in the first MAP cycle although premium support packages may be introduced.
  • Oxford Nanopore may recognise participants, who make popular or constructive contributions to NanoporeOnline forums.

Confidentiality and copyright
Oxford Nanopore is happy for the MAP participants to share the results of their experiments and experiences. We believe that by releasing MinION device to a broad community and listening and responding to honest feedback that we will be better able to develop the product and support its full potential.

However, we ask that you do not share the results of your experiments until you have verified to Oxford Nanopore that you are happy the technology is suitable for your application. Prior to notifying us of your successful completion of the Burn-in, we ask you to treat as confidential information all technical aspects of your experience using the MinION, including workflow, data, results and performance. Subsequently you are free to discuss these publicly whether in publications, presentations or on social media, (following the guidelines in Publication Guide for the MAP).

You are also required not to share your login, Oxford Nanopore-generated material from or associated copyrighted materials such as software, without permission.

What next?
If you are happy to proceed to joining the MAP, we invite you to log in to where you will be asked to review and agree Terms and Conditions, pay the deposit and delivery charges and await your MAP deliveries. Your login will be sent to you.

If you would prefer to delay or cancel your participation in the MAP, please let us know by mailing Thank you for reviewing this document and we look forward to working with you in the coming weeks.

Kind regards,

The Oxford Nanopore team

We are delighted to announce that we have opened registration for the MAP!

Previous applicants are welcome to apply again, as the first wave of MAP was heavily oversubscribed and unfortunately we could not include every applicant.

Guidelines for applying for the MAP

  • Each application should be made by an individual. One application will be accepted per person and there is no limit on the number of applications per institution.
  • Each applicant can apply for up to 10 MAP packages. Each MAP package includes a single MinION and corresponding supply of flow cells/preparation kits. This is subject to availability; Oxford Nanopore may allocate fewer than this number however participants will be expected to honour their maximum application number. Each MinION requires a refundable deposit of $1,000.
  • Registration period(s) will be announced via our website and on Twitter @nanopore. At least two days notice will be given of closure of the registration period. Applications can be made at any time during this period; preference will not be given to early applicants.
  • We are requesting little information about your intentions for MAP and no supplementary information is necessary. Places in MAP will be distributed to a broad range of applicants with some element of fairly-applied random allocation. Oxford Nanopore will not be able to provide feedback on individual applications.
  • Following the MAP registration closure, a number of applicants will be invited to join the programme. At this stage, the relevant terms and conditions/licence agreements will be provided and the participant will be invited to review and agree to these terms. Participants will then gain access to the programme by paying a $1,000 refundable deposit and an additional shipping charge per MAP package.
  • Software for running the MinION and base calling will be provided as part of the package. A test program will allow verification of the compatibility of the host computer system.
  • Further specifics will be provided when participants are invited to join MAP, however applicants can anticipate being allowed to develop applications under a permissive license (allowing end-to-end nanopore DNA sequencing-application development) and being free to publish their results and share their experiences after a compulsory burn-in period specified in the licensing terms.
  • Applications are invited from any country, however there may be initial shipping limitations for a small number of countries. Participation by individuals in certain countries may be prohibited by law.
  • Details about individual applications will not be shared outside Oxford Nanopore without the applicant’s permission.
  • Oxford Nanopore may modify, discontinue or change the MAP for any reason or no reason and participants may choose to exit the programme at any time, receiving a refund on their deposit upon return of specified MAP items.
  • Competitors of Oxford Nanopore and their affiliates need not apply as their participation will be explicitly excluded by the Terms and Conditions.

You may like to read a guide to MAP where you can find details on the MAP journey and philosophy.

First impressions:

This seems to be a program where you get to be a beta tester for a little USB molecular analyzer gizmo. You get to play around with it to try DNA sequencing and other applications, and upload your results.

Here is a video showing how the technology works:

There is a $1000 deposit. You get it back when you send back the gizmo. There is also a $250 charge for the disposable cartridges and shipping. If you want to continue doing “testing” cycles it looks like you will need to keep sending them $ for more cartridges.

If Hive13 wants to do this, we would need a small equipment upgrade (working pipetters, tips, ?)…I’d guess that it would be <$200 and would be useful for other Bio stuff as well.

Safety concerns appear to be low (no live organisms, doesn’t look like any toxic chemicals involved).

If a few members want to do this and have Hive13 fund it I will probably vote YES. Not sure I’d have time to really be part of it myself…


It actually requires purified DNA typically from saliva or blood