Reflecting on my time thus far within optics and photonics, one thing that resonates with me is the sense of community. I’ve worked in multiple industries—and each has its own flavor. But this is the first with a true community feel. It’s present at events, and there is a genuine desire across the industry to push one another to thrive. It’s the sense of being in it together, that’s often only present in “young” industries.Celebration is a key step in keeping a community alive. This is true whether its celebrating a new innovation (which often benefits the entire industry) or celebrating the efforts of someone who has made a difference. One example, Optica’s recent presentation recognizing Alain Rousset, president of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France, as its latest Advocate of Optics at an event hosted by the Institut d’Optique Graduate School (IOGS) on November 21st. The event featured speeches from 2018 Nobel Laureate Gérard Mourou, Optica Fellow Pierre Chavel, and IOGS Director General Rémi Carminati.
“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 capitalized on his region’s existing optics infrastructure to support further investment in an ecosystem and economy around optics and lasers. 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 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, in a statement. “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.”
These celebrations are crucial. They give everyone an opportunity to reflect, predict, and further strengthen the bonds within the community.
Don’t get me wrong—I know competition exists within photonics and optics, and for the most part, it’s quite healthy. The competition I’ve seen primarily serves as motivation to be better. It’s this spirit that makes me want to shine a brighter light on all things photonics. I hope you will join me in doing so.