The Millennium Point development brought some much-needed investment into Birmingham’s Eastside. IoD Regional Director John Phillips talks to IoD member Philip Singleton, its CEO, about Millennium Point’s history and his ambitious plans for the future.

John: Now that Millennium Point has entered its second decade could you remind our readers of the vision behind the original project and the history of the building?

Philip: Yes. The building was designed by Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners – the architect responsible for designing the Eden Project in Cornwall – and was built at a cost of £114 million, including £50 million of Millennium Commission lottery funding and £25.6 million from the European Regional Development Fund. It was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 2 July, 2002. The idea was to create a landmark project in Birmingham to mark the millennium. The International Convention Centre and the development of Broad Street had transformed Brindleyplace and the idea was to create a similar quarter in Eastside, but with a specific focus on science, technology, learning and innovation. Millennium Point is home to Thinktank, the city’s science museum, which provides a record of our industrial heritage as well as underlining the importance of looking to the future with the most up-to-date science and technology. It also houses Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Technology, Engineering and the Environment and hosts the fashion and design hubs of Birmingham Metropolitan College.

John: Has Millennium Point achieved its objective of putting Eastside on the Map?

Philip: Millennium Point certainly acted as the catalyst for the regeneration we now see taking shape in Eastside, and it’s great to see just how much the area has developed in spite of the economic climate. Eastside City Park, which sits at our entrance on Curzon Street, has played a pivotal role in linking us to the City Centre. The £11.7m development has already won a raft of local and national awards and is proving extremely popular with residents and visitors to the city. The park, along with Hotel La Tour, has been a massive boost for us in bringing new visitors to our venue. Looking forward, Birmingham City University’s new Parkside campus is due to open in September this year and will provide a state-of-the-art home for the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. Beyond that, and without doubt, the most significant planned development for the area is the introduction of High Speed 2 – with plans to site the new station adjacent to Millennium Point.

John: How are you structured?

Philip: Millennium Point is owned by Millennium Point Trust (MPT), a charitable body, and is managed by its operational division, Millennium Point Property Limited (MPPL). Approximately 30 members of staff are employed by MPPL and are responsible for maintaining the building and its facilities and organising events and activities for both corporate and public audiences. In recent years,MPPL has generated a healthy surplus from rental income generated by tenants and partners within the building. This has enabled the Trust Board to allocate over £3 million in funding to its two charitable partners – Thinktank and Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Technology, Engineering and the Environment (both based within Millennium Point). In 2012 financial donations to Thinktank helped fund the Science Garden (the outdoor extension to the science museum) and the new ‘Made in Birmingham’ exhibition. Millennium Point’s second charitable partner, Birmingham City University, received funding to further the advancement of education in the fields of technological innovation, engineering and science, as well as facilitating research into the development of new technological products and services. This unique relationship between Millennium Point and its two charitable partners is what sets the venue apart from others in the city. Our commitment to financially supporting our partner organisations means there is continual investment in science, technology, learning, design and innovation which residents andvisitors to the city benefit from.

John: How do you see the future?

Philip: Millennium Point will be the place where you come to be amazed. We want to host and promote events that are surprising and inspirational and make you think. We are working with four themes. These are Work, Play, Move and Live. Work will be about technology of the future – how we will get things done. Play will be about how we have fun – especially in the digital world. Move will be about mobility. Live will be about health and well-being.

John: We recently held an important business event at Millennium Point. Tell me more about your event space?

Philip: We think we’re well equipped to host a wide range of events. The building itself has an iconic status. The atrium is particularly impressive, and attracts a high footfall of visitors across the ages and demographics – from families and students, to academics and professionals, so is well positioned to provide a wide range of customer facing opportunities. The atrium has housed a number of unique events, from the city’s annual design and innovation expo ‘Birmingham Made Me’ to formal celebrations such as the RIBA2013 design awards, which included a three course dinner in the atrium for 270 guests.

We are very proud of our impressive ‘Giant Screen’ cinema. The auditorium area can accommodate 373 guests and is equipped with a stage, full lighting rig and a 4k dual projection digital system. A whole range of material from Powerpoint presentations through to high definition film content can be displayed on the 72 foot silver screen – providing audiences with an unforgettable event experience. The Giant Screen recently hosted TEDxBrum 2013 and has been widely used by a range of companies for product launches and presentations. We can also offer the two event spaces (the Giant Screen and the Atrium) in tandem to provide a mesmerising and unrivalled experience.

John: Millennium Point has helped rejuvenate the Eastside of the city. Does your location help?

Philip: It’s a real bonus that we’re so centrally located. Millennium Point is well served by public transport locally and nationally, with the city’s three main train stations, Birmingham Moor Street, Birmingham New Street and Birmingham Snow Hill, all within walking distance. There is on-site parking for over 1,000 vehicles and a coach park to accommodate large groups of visitors. All four floors of the building can be accessed via a lift which runs through the centre of the building – making the venue fully accessible for wheelchair users. There aren’t many venues in the city which can offer these facilities.

John: Thank you, Philip.