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Affiliated Commission of

Affiliated Member of

ICO Awards

Major ICO Events

(Topical Meetings, Regional Meetings, Schools)


Application deadlines are April 15 and October 15 of each year. The applications must be submitted to the ICO Associate Secretary by a deadline that is at least 12 months prior to the event and before the first announcement.

A - General Conditions

1 - "Event" in this document refers to a scientific meeting, college, or school. As opposed to other events with ICO participation, ICO Congresses and other major ICO events are generated from the very beginning by ICO or in close relation with ICO. A companion document to this one gives the information and guidelines for ICO Cosponsorship and Endorsement of Conferences and Schools, where ICO is not the primary organizer.

2 - The following rules apply in all cases to ICO General Meetings and other major ICO events

  • the event should be international - typically, at least 30 % of the expected attendance and at least 50 % of the Program Committee should be from outside the host territory;
  • the ICO Bureau should perceive clearly that the meeting will be of a good scientific quality and that the timing and venue are appropriate;
  • the ICO Territorial Committee of the territory where the event is to be held should approve the project;
  • in agreement with the organizers, the ICO Secretariat applies for the formal sponsorship of the ICO General, Regional, and Topical Meetings by IUPAP;
  • the organizers should confirm compliance with the general principle of "free movement of scientists" as defined by the International Council for Science (ICSU) in the booklet "Advice to Organizers of International Scientific Conferences". The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), in which ICO is Affiliated Commission 1, adheres to the declarations of ICSU. In essence, the host territory must guarantee that a bona fide scientist or engineer of any nationality or citizenship may attend. It is not sufficient to make such a guarantee only for persons from territories recognized by the host territory. Any failure to honor a guarantee is reported by ICO to ICSU through IUPAP. Following a decision by IUPAP, the organizers are requested to publish the following sentence in any circular, announcement, and in the Proceedings of the conference: "To secure IUPAP sponsorship, the organizers have provided assurance that (Conference name) will be conducted in accordance with IUPAP principles as stated in the ICSU Document "Universality of Science" (sixth edition, 1989) regarding the free circulation of scientists for international purposes. In particular, no bona fide scientist will be excluded from participation on the grounds of national origin, nationality, or political considerations unrelated to science."
  • the registration fees for meetings should follow IUPAP's policy on conference fees. The ICO Bureau recommends to have substantially discounted fees for full-time students;
  • ICO should approve the composition of the Program Committee and be in a position to appoint part of it. The ICO Associate Secretary in charge of meetings should be ex officio a member of the Organizing Committee;
  • the ICO logo should be used in all documents related to the meeting that are made public;
  • the event should be publicized in the ICO Newsletter. The texts are usually prepared in cooperation by the local Organizers and the ICO Secretary;
  • the announcements, calls for communications and registration forms should be distributed, among others, through the channel of the ICO Territorial Committees;
  • the organizers should accept to send free proceedings of the conference to countries where optics development requires special support; a list of addresses appropriate for this purpose selected by ICO will be provided by ICO. At present, the number of copies required is of the order of 20. In addition, conferences endorsed by IUPAP should participate in the IUPAP Proceedings Donation Program.

3 - ICO encourages meetings in all new areas of optics and meetings designed to fill specific needs, including regional development of optics. At the same time, ICO would like to avoid the unnecessary proliferation of conferences; section 6 of the Questionnaire should therefore be answered carefully, explaining why this particular conference should be held.

4 - Industrial participation in the Program Committee and in the Organizing Committee is usually required.

5 - There may be ICO financial participation in ICO events, in the form of a grant, a loan, or a participation in the risks. ICO participation is an ICO Bureau decision. There is usually no ICO financial participation in ICO Endorsed events.


  • participation in the financial risks means an immediate loan that can be converted in part or in totality into a grant if the event runs a deficit. ICO accepts to take the first risk. In case of a surplus, however, ICO receives a share of the surplus (for details, see ICO Green Book: Rules and Codes of Practice).
  • A typical amount of an ICO grant for a major ICO event is US$ 1500-7000, and for an ICO Cosponsored event about US$ 1000-3000. ICO grant are mostly awarded for the purpose of help support young scientists and scientists from low-income and lower-middle-income countries as defined by the most recent list of the World Bank.

B - Special conditions for ICO Congresses

6 - ICO Congresses are held every three years; they include the General Business Meeting as requested by the statutes and a Scientific Meeting that should cover most of optics.

7 - For Congresses, calls for bids are issued by the ICO Associate Secretary with a deadline typically 4 years before the Meeting. The ICO Bureau in that year examines the bids and issues a proposition that is then submitted to the ICO Congress the following year. The ICO Congress makes the final decision. Advance notice is always appreciated. Bids should be sent to the ICO Associate Secretary in charge of meetings and schools.

8 - The vast majority of the recent Congresses were held in August or early in September.

9 - The budget should provide for some financial help for invited speakers, the usual minimum being free registration. Special support is requested for invited speakers from countries where the development of optics is comparatively difficult. In recent ICO Congresses, the number of invited speakers has ranged between 30 and 40. Recent winners of the ICO Prize, the IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Optics and the Galileo Galilei Award are usually invited speakers at the Immediate next ICO Congress. 

10 - The 2020 Congress, ICO-25, will be held in Dresden, Germany in September 2020. Previous ICO Congresses were held in the following countries:

  • ICO-24, 2017, Japan
  • ICO-23, 2014, Spain
  • ICO-22, 2011, Mexico
  • ICO-21, 2008, Australia
  • ICO-20, 2005, People's Republic of China
  • ICO-19, 2002, Italy
  • ICO-18, 1999, United States of America
  • ICO-17, 1996, Korea
  • ICO-16, 1993, Hungary
  • ICO-15, 1990, F.R. Germany
  • ICO-14, 1987, Canada
  • ICO-13, 1984, Japan
  • ICO-12, 1981, Austria
  • ICO-11, 1978, Spain
  • ICO-10, 1975, Czechoslovakia
  • ICO-9, 1972, United States of America
  • ICO-8, 1969, United Kingdom
  • ICO-7, 1966, France
  • ICO-6, 1962, F.R. Germany
  • ICO-5, 1959, Sweden
  • ICO-4, 1956, United States of America
  • ICO-3, 1953, Spain
  • ICO-2, 1950, United Kingdom
  • ICO-1, 1948, The Netherlands
  • (preliminary meetings had been held in Czechoslovakia and France).

C - Other major ICO events

11 - ICO usually organizes Schools, Topical Meetings, and Regional Meetings between the Congresses.

12 - ICO Meetings should correspond to a clear need in a given sub-field of optics or in a given geographical area.

13 - It is possible to have more than one ICO major meeting in a given year or to have one in the same year as a Congress.

14 - Bids for all major ICO events other than the ICO Congress that are to be held prior to December of a given calendar year should be sent to the ICO Secretariat by April of that year. 

15 - Opportunities to organize schools are welcome. ICO Schools should normally be specialized to some area of optics and should last between one and three weeks. Schools in geographical areas with special needs for the development of optics are particularly welcome