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Doctor of Food Sciences Päivi Myllärinen (right) receives a hug and the Innovation Award for Women 2018 at the Parliament Building in Helsinki on June 1, 2018. The award is worth 110.000 euros. It was handed by Speaker of the Parliament Paula Risikko. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The winner of the Innovation Award for Women has certainly “internalized” the product because we are talking about food. Speaker of the Parliament Paula Risikko’s remark relaxed the nervous atmosphere with laughs at the Parliament Building on Friday morning.

Speaker Risikko invited the winner of the award Päivi Myllärinen, doctor of food sciences, to the stage.

The parliament presents the award to a woman or team of women for an innovation of scientific importance in the technology of economics.

Päivi Myllärinen is truly honored by such an important recognition. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

A pioneer in plant-based alternatives

Myllärinen is a researcher at the Finnish dairy company, Valio. She has focused on chemistry, milk as a raw material, processes and technology.

With her innovations she has added value to the processing of milk. She has developed products for new target groups, such as vegans and vegetarians. She is a pioneer in developing plant-based alternatives for milk products.

Things like rye bread make her wonder the world: How can something as wonderful as rye bread result from a mixture of flour and water? Questions like that started her road to become a researcher 33 years ago.

Myllärinen describes herself as passionate, determined and very impatient.

According to Myllärinen, the position of women in Finnish science is exemplary but she would like to see women have more courage to take on challenges and bigger tasks. “You should not be discouraged. You should strive for what you want,” is her motto.

“I am extremely touched by this award. Thank you!” she said in her award speech.

Tony Öhberg