Last November, Spain’s University of Jaén appointed a new Social Council President, who, appropriately, has his feet very firmly planted in the olive oil industry. Francisco Vañó, general manager of the Spanish olive oil producer Castillo de Canena, stepped into his new role with a strong commitment to taking the university, and particularly its relationship with the olive oil sector, to the next level.

At Madrid’s World Olive Oil Exhibition, Vañó elaborated on the connection between the school and the region’s famous product, revealing the university’s objectives both on a local and global level and building on the strong link between the school and its community.

“Jaén is a sea of olive trees,” Vañó began, echoing how the region is so often described. Olive oil production is Jaén’s most important sector. The region’s boasts 325 of the country’s 1,761 olive mills and cooperatives, which produce 27.38 percent of the nation’s olive oil.

With olive oil production such a crucial part of the region’s economy and culture, Vañó emphasized the importance of the university’s role as a living entity within the community, working toward the sector’s development.

The university fulfills this through research, knowledge transfer, and training, all made possible via 39 olive oil-sector-dedicated investigative groups, a collection of educational programs, including a doctorate and masters, and other initiatives.


Francisco Vañó spoke at the World Olive Oil Exhibition in Madrid (Photo: WOOE)

These objectives reach beyond the borders of Jaén, too. The ultimate goal is to become a point of reference globally as an international center for investigation. Enter the university’s Center for Advanced Studies of Olive Grove and Olive Oils.

The center brings together researchers, resources and equipment that enable development and innovation in the olive oil sector. The desired result: to elevate the level of technology in the sector, build relationships with similar research centers in Spain and abroad, and to be an enduring benchmark of quality in the field of research at an international level – among other objectives.

Back in November, Vañó made clear his devotion to the university: “I am going to dedicate myself to the University of Jaén, because it is truly the engine of dynamism, progress, development, and the future of the province.” And, it would seem, an important part of the future beyond the province as well.

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