• Alain Rousset awarded for Visionary Investment in the Optics Industry
    Alain Rousset (right) and Nobel Laureate Gérard Mourou at the awards ceremony (Credit: Gautier DUFAU)

News & Views

Alain Rousset awarded for Visionary Investment in the Optics Industry

Nov 29 2022

For more than 20 years of strong and enthusiastic support for the advancement of light science and the photonics industry, Alain Rousset, President of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France, received Optica Society’s annual Advocate of Optics award during a ceremony held at the Institut d’Optique Graduate School (IOGS) on 21 November.

The 2018 Nobel Laureate Gérard Mourou, Optica Fellow Pierre Chavel and IOGS directeur général Rémi Carminati were also present at the event to celebrate the vibrant French optics industry.

“It is a real honour for me to receive this award. The photonics, laser and microwave sector in New Aquitaine benefits from world-renowned expertise. It brings together companies, universities and research, technology transfer and training centres around major innovation projects,” said Rousset. “By creating a value chain from technological research to application markets, this particularly dynamic ecosystem is working on the development of laser sources, power lasers, new generation optical fibers, very advanced microwave components, as well as complete systems. It is this entire ecosystem that is now rewarded with this distinction!”

Rousset was elected President of the Regional Council of Aquitaine in 1998, served on the French National Assembly from 2007 to 2017 and has since been re-elected as President of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Under his leadership, the Bordeaux area has become a thriving scientific and industrial ecosystem.

“Président Rousset has been prescient in his support of the optics industry in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.  For more than two decades he has championed the scientific and commercial potential of lasers, photonics and all of the supporting industries that make those technologies possible,” said Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of Optica. “Optica is grateful for his leadership and insight. We look forward to the continued success of the photonics community in Bordeaux, in Nouvelle-Aquitaine and in France.”  

Following the start of the French Defense department’s “Laser Megajoule” nuclear defense programme in Bordeaux in 1995, Rousset was able to capitalise on this existing optics infrastructure to argue for building an ecosystem and economy around optics and lasers in the region. His vision led to the creation of an IOGS branch in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the laser and microwaves excellence cluster Alpha-RLH, the PETAL laser program and the founding of more than 50 optics-based startups in the Bordeaux area. Under Rousset’s leadership, more than 180 million euros have been invested to develop optics and photonics in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.

"President Rousset has been a true advocate for optics and photonics, making Nouvelle-Aquitaine a major player among French regions in the domain and globally increasing French leadership in research and technology,” said IOGS directeur général Rémi Carminati. “His leadership resulted in the establishment of the Institut d'Optique Graduate School branch in the Institut d'Optique d'Aquitaine building."

 Nominated for the award by IOGS and the Alpha-RLH excellence cluster in 2019, the ceremony was postponed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rousset is the 15th recipient of this recognition and the first recipient from France. 

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