Maija Itkonen, co-founder & CIO of Gold&Green® Foods, will be Honored as Part of the UN Photo Exhibit “Not a Woman’s Job?”


Maija Itkonen, Chief Innovations Officer of Gold&Green® Foods, has the honor of being part of the upcoming United Nations Virtual Photo Exhibition “Not a Woman’s Job” in Switzerland, Geneva. Organized by the Perception Change Project in the Office of Director-General of UNOG, the exhibition will be inaugurated virtually on International Workers’ Day on Saturday, May 1, 2021. The purpose of the exhibit is to showcase women’s inspiring stories of success and career fulfillment while attracting women to positions traditionally occupied by men.

Gender-based stereotypes remain common when it comes to job market and career prospects. With this in mind, the United Nations Office at Geneva has organized the exhibit to recognize and support women all around the world whose profession is traditionally associated with the “man’s world”, such as entrepreneurs, filmmakers, politicians, security officers, airline pilots or ship captains. The exhibition will highlight women’s stories who contributed to breaking down deep-rooted gender stereotypes and demonstrated that all jobs are for all people, men and women alike.

As the co-founder of Gold&Green® Foods, the purpose-driven brand behind the revolutionary plant-based protein, Pulled Oats®, Maija Itkonen has been selected to be one of two women representing Finland. Maija is an industrial designer turned food industry disruptor who is on a mission to change the way we eat. Design has served as the connective tissue throughout her career, inspiring her, “to envision alternative futures and what kind of things could be possible in society.”

Industrial designer turned food industry disruptor

As a lifelong vegetarian, Maija craved a better-tasting and healthier alternative to the scarce selection of meat substitutes available. She was determined to find a protein source that was not only delicious but also had a short and simple ingredient list, was nutritious and had minimal impact on the environment. Maija started thinking about the intersection of food and technology and wondered about the possibility of creating a new protein option that stood on its own. In 2014, after stumbling across an article about fake meat, she realized the untapped potential of her native-growing Nordic Oats, an epiphany that would change her life and the future of food.

Maija Itkonen co-founded Gold&Green® Foods in 2015 with a vision of breaking the meat habit with uncompromised plant-based protein in terms of all the nutritional & environmental benefits. She lives in Helsinki with her husband and four children. When not spending time with her family, Maija can be found at the Gold&Green® design lab where she continues to innovate toward a sustainable, healthier and more flavorful future.

Honing in on the nutrient-rich Nordic oat, Maija teamed up with an oat scientist and a legume scientist to develop an innovative mechanical process that blends oats with faba bean and yellow pea protein. Maija is truly a pioneer in her field. As a female starting a new food business, she faced numerous challenges and prejudices in a traditionally male-dominated industry, but she persevered. After months of trial and error, the team had designed and engineered an innovative new plant-based protein. In just 24 months, Maija and her team were able to create an entirely new food and protein source and Gold&Green® Foods has been an award magnet ever since, proving wrong anyone who once challenged her vision.

In 2015, Pulled Oats® was launched in Maija’s hometown of Helsinki, Finland and found instant success, something Maija attributes to consumers becoming more aware of the impact food has on their health and the environment. The design-driven start-up has since expanded throughout Europe via both retail and foodservice channels. In 2020, Gold&Green® Pulled Oats® debuted in the US through food service, with plans to soon expand into US retail. More than just a food brand, Maija considers Gold&Green® to be a research-driven, design-centric tech company that is now proving a solution for a broken food system and ensuring there is a sustainable food source available to feed future generations.

Prior to starting Gold&Green® Foods, Maija studied industrial design and international design business management in the Aalto University School of Art. Maija already had a successful venture behind her, as she founded PowerKiss, a wireless mobile charging technology company, in 2008. The company was acquired by US-Israeli Powermat in 2013.

Maija is honored to be part of the “Not a Woman’s Job?” exhibit showcasing the successful, powerful women who choose to pave a fresh path every day for the women of tomorrow. Maija is passionate about supporting female-founded businesses. Encouraging girls and women to work for ambitious ideas and to become entrepreneurs is close to Maija’s heart. Through her actions, she hopes to inspire others to dream big, too.

Check out the “Not a Woman’s Job?” exhibition:

About Gold&Green® Foods
Gold&Green® Foods is on a mission to change eating habits for healthier people and the planet by creating delicious plant-based protein products, made with short and simple ingredient lists. The unique combination of golden oats and green legumes is the signature base of Gold&Green
® Foods’ innovative products and reflects the company name. All Gold&Green® products are produced in Järvenpää, Finland and the ingredients are sourced as locally as possible. Since launching in Finland in 2015, the hero product Pulled Oats® has experienced tremendous success throughout Europe. Pulled Oats® was introduced in the US in 2020. Learn more at

For further information, please contact:
Laura Toppinen
Communications Manager, Gold&Green Foods
+358 406207183

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