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21 November 2022

Optica honors Alain Rousset with Advocate of Optics recognition

Rousset is honored for his visionary investment in the optics industry in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France.

WASHINGTON — Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, is pleased to announce that Alain Rousset, President of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France, is recognized as its latest Advocate of Optics. For more than 20 years, Rousset has demonstrated strong, enthusiastic support for the optics and photonics industry. Under his leadership, the Bordeaux area has become a thriving scientific and industrial ecosystem.

The Optica Advocate of Optics recognition is typically presented yearly to a public official who demonstrates leadership in support of the advancement of light science. Rousset will be formally awarded the Advocate in Optics Recognition at an event hosted by the Institut d’Optique Graduate School (IOGS) on 21 November. The event will also feature 2018 Nobel Laureate Gérard Mourou, Optica Fellow Pierre Chavel and IOGS directeur général Rémi Carminati to celebrate the vibrant French optics industry.

“It is a real honor 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 centers 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. Since assuming office, Rousset has supported the optics community because he believes that “photonics will be in the 21st century what electronics was in the 20th century” as he told Les Echos Entrepreneurs in 2013.

“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.”  

In 1995, just before Rousset’s election, the French Defense department began developing the “Laser Megajoule” as part of a nuclear defense program in Bordeaux. After assuming the presidency, Rousset capitalized 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."

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

About the Advocate of Optics Recognition

The Optica Advocate of Optics is an annual recognition by the Optica Public Affairs Council. For each calendar year, the council evaluates and selects an outstanding public official from any country who demonstrates leadership and support for the advancement of optics and photonics. The recipient is evaluated on criteria such as his/her enthusiasm for science and science policy, level of familiarity with optics and photonics, level of interaction with Optica and our members in the past year and record of consistent support of science, optics and photonics. One or more recipients may be chosen in any year.

About Optica

Optica, Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, is the society dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica's renowned publications, meetings, online resources and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical and educational achievement. Discover more at:

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