Buenaventura IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology

'Codon Corridor' new name for Conejo-Simi area?

Bardia Besharat, Bob Blackstock, and Scott Kuhns, Guest Columnists

The term "Silicon Valley" is derived from the title of a series of articles - "Silicon Valley in the USA" - that began on Jan. 11, 1971, in the trade newspaper Electronic News.  It started out as a simple, technology-driven nickname for the Santa Clara Valley, located in the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Today, however, the term has evolved into a global "brand" in its own right and has become a powerful de-facto marketing and promotional engine for the entire Bay Area.  "Silicon Valley" is now synonymous with entrepreneurialism and has long since become part of the global vernacular.

To be fair, the economic rise of Silicon Valley owes much less to its clever nickname than it does to other more important factors, like the right mix of human and capital resources, and the vision, hard work and success of countless entrepreneurs whose creative and revolutionary products and services profoundly transformed both business and society.

Nevertheless, it didn't hurt to have a suitable regional nickname or moniker that was also readily deployable as an effective branding and marketing tool.

To understand why the nickname Silicon Valley is so effective as a moniker, we must quickly examine its various attributes.

The term silicon refers to the relevant underlying technological context since it is the most popular type of semiconductor material from which the vast majority of modern electronic systems are developed.  In short, it is the foundation upon which all modern information science industries are built.

Fortunately, the term also has the advantage of having fewer syllables, and therefore, looks and sounds more concise, catchy and phonetically pleasing than other types of semiconductors, such as "germanium" or "gallium arsenide" or even the word "semiconductor" itself.

Finally, the term Silicon Valley exudes an originality that viscerally differentiates it from other regional monikers that seem relatively bland or overly generic by comparison, such as Route 128 (Massachusetts), Research Triangle (North Carolina), Kansai Science City (Japan) and Digital Media City (South Korea).

Today, in a situation that is analogous to the early days of Silicon Valley, the burgeoning life science industry along the tri-valley corridor spanning the Conejo, Simi and San Fernando valleys may similarly benefit from a pertinent, catchy and phonetically pleasing regional nickname with comparable branding and marketing potential.

Therefore, just as the term Silicon Valley was previously co-opted to represent the entire electronics industry in the Santa Clara Valley and the broader Bay Area, perhaps the time is now ripe to similarly co-opt the term "Codon Corridor" to represent the growing life science and biotech cluster along the Southern California tri-valley corridor.

The word "codon" refers to the codons of the genetic code, which are as vital to the existence of all life on Earth as the nucleic acids of DNA and the amino acids of proteins.  Codons serve a crucial role in the cellular mechanism that translates the genetic blueprint of life - encoded within DNA - into the proteins that comprise the building blocks of life.

Hence, the term "Codon Corridor" perfectly distills and reflects the essence of the fundamental science underlying much of the area's economic growth.

It has not escaped notice that "codon" is also related to "code", the word from which it is derived, and to "coding" - popular synonyms for "software" and "programming", respectively.  Therefore, "Codon Corridor" not only provides a convenient symbolic representation of the life science industry along the tri-valley corridor, but is also sufficiently versatile to allow the conceptual integration of the area's information science industry under the same moniker.

"Codon Corridor" may provide an even greater regional branding and marketing potential than Silicon Valley for conveying the spirit of a technologically multifaceted and entrepreneurial culture imbued with a sense of purpose, flair and optimism toward the future.

What better way to capture and capitalize on this branding potential than with the early adoption of a representative and evocative moniker?


Bardia Besharat, of Woodland Hills, is a consultant.  Bob Blackstock, of Newbury Park, is a former Silicon Valley engineer and venture capitalist.  Scott Kuhns, of Newbury Park, is a manager at a biotechnology company.

Ventura County Star, January 8, 2015Reprinted with the permissionn of the authors.

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