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World media descends on Millennium Point as Royal visitors meet young people for International Women’s Day

Harry and Meghan Stemettes activity Millennium Point.
Visit to Millennium Point, Birmingham by HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Journalists and photographers from across the world put Birmingham’s Millennium Point on the global stage in an event that brought together industry leaders, female students - and HRH Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle - at a major symposium that coincided with International Women’s Day.

The 500,000-sq. ft. landmark venue, known especially for its hosting of events, training, conferences and exhibitions linked to science, technology, engineering and technology, was selected as host location for the event in conjunction with STEMettes, the award-winning social initiative.

Millennium Point hosted and brought together 90 female students from secondary schools to inspire women to work in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Female leaders in their STEM fields told their life-stories to students as part of an ongoing initiative to relieve a major skills shortage facing manufacturing and technology businesses by attracting more women into STEM.

In their first visit to Birmingham, Prince Harry and Ms. Markle spoke extensively to the young women from secondary schools in the Midlands as they used Millennium Point’s Platform and Auditorium, with its 120-metre screen. The Prince and Ms Markle freely mixed with the students and took part in building apps and touchpads, before hearing more about their motivations to pursue STEM subjects.

Later the students described their discussions with Prince Harry and Ms. Markle as “brilliant”.

“They were very friendly and wanted to know what we wanted to do – and very encouraging,” said one student who said that Prince Harry was interested in VR technology. Another said she would have liked Prince Harry as her brother.

Rebecca Delmore, Commercial Director at Millennium Point, said that with the building having been opened by HM The Queen, they were used to hosting prestigious visits, but the media interest in the symposium and visit – which also used the extensive space outside Millennium Point fronting Eastside Park – demonstrated the venue’s flexibility.

“Enabling the students, their teachers and industry representatives to have access, whilst also ensuring three other events in the building could continue as normal, alongside providing a secure environment, were key considerations,” said Rebecca.

“Our staff shone through and we worked with partners such as Birmingham City Council to ensure that both the media and the public immediately outside the building had a great view of the Royal couple – and the opportunity to meet and chat with them.”

That arrangement worked particularly well for a photograph that went global as an aspiring actress received a Royal hug.

CEO of Millennium Point, Judith Armstrong, told the Royal visitors and students of her own career story, being inspired by her mother who at one point had never enjoyed maths but then took an interest that encouraged her daughter.

“Everyone was captivated by Prince Harry and Ms. Markle and delighted they spent so much time meeting and chatting to the students. It was very relaxed and I have no doubt that they and our female leaders in STEM sectors were a great inspiration.

“But this was not just a photo opportunity. Working with Stemettes, we have helped demonstrate both the needs of business and the opportunities for females in STEM,” she said afterwards.

Millennium Point is unusual in that its commercial activities enables Millennium Point Trust to donate more than £4m to organisations, projects and initiatives that support access to STEM related education including working with Birmingham City University's Faculty of Computing, Engineering and The Built Environment to offer a free undergraduate STEM degree. The Millennium Point scholarship is now in its fourth year.

“Being able to showcase Stemettes and the work of Millennium Point and its Trust to Prince Harry and Ms. Markle on International Women’s day was a great honour.

“We’re dedicated to supporting equal opportunities and encouraging girls in these sectors and are delighted that our activities are helping to give the important issues around women in STEM such a high profile.”

The event at Millennium Point included interactive activities, a panel discussion, speed networking opportunities with local businesses, and information on work experience, apprenticeships, A-level choices, and university degrees in STEM.

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