Bordeaux photonics environment

The Photonics industry and the Bordeaux area have a rich common history.

The implementation

Fifty years ago, defense industry leaders established centers of excellence in Bordeaux, like THALES or DASSAULT.

In 1995, the French Government decided to build the Laser Mégajoule (LMJ) at the Centre d'études scientifiques et techniques d'Aquitaine near Bordeaux, in the framework of the French Nuclear Simulation Program (€7B investment project involving more than 1 000 companies). 20% of the beamtime available is open for experiments proposed by the academic community.

An influential competitiveness cluster 

In 2005, the Bordeaux Light S&T ecosystem created the competitivness cluster “Route des Lasers” (ALPHA-RLH) which was promoted by the French government as one of the tops “Pôle de Compétitivité” with five strategic domains of activities (aeronautics and space, healthcare, energy, lasers and processes, components and instrumentation). As of today, among ALPHA-RLH affiliates, 150 local companies and 40 public and private laboratories are in the scope of Light S&T. Since 2005, ALPHA-RLH facilitated collaborative projects between Photonics Companies and Laboratories for total funding of €383M and promoted mutual exchanges of UB students. ALPHA-RLH also has an International Road Map to support Bordeaux Sciences of Light expertise, with representatives in USA, UK, China and Korea, that helps to build a relationship between foreign companies and our laboratories.

In 2010, the University of Bordeaux applied successfully to the national IdEx program (Initiative d’Excellence), with a strong development plan around the S&T of light topics. In 2012, the landscape of research and training in the sciences and technologies of light was further strengthened by the installation of a branch of the Institut d’Optique Graduate School (IOGS).

An Institut dedicated to Photonics

Aquitaine Regional council funded a €50M program for the new “Institut d’Optique d’Aquitaine”, an 18000 m² building dedicated to high-level education, research and innovation. The building hosts a research Laboratory (LP2N), a technology transfer platform ALPHANOV and incubates start-up projects emanating from the campus research laboratories. Each year, IOGS welcomes at its Bordeaux campus 60 student-engineers for their 2nd and 3rd year of a graduate curriculum focused on "Digital Technologies of the Optics" or "Optics and Modeling". These students can also enroll in a Master degree either in “Physics” (in the framework of the Light S&T Graduate School) or in "Signal and Image Processing" at UB. IOGS is one of the pillars of Light S&T.

Smart specialization

In 2015, the Aquitaine Region selected the “Laser, Photonics and Medical Imagery” as one of its 10 Smart Specialization domains  within the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. This is a clear statement that the Regional Authority will promote public investments in research and boost innovation programs in the sciences and technologies of light with the support of the European Commission. 


Updated on 27/07/2021


Light Sciences and Technologies Graduate Program
Université de Bordeaux

Institut d’Optique d’Aquitaine
Rue François Mitterrand
33405 Talence - France