GMIT and Medtronic partnership to commission public artwork recognising efforts of local community and employees in responding to COVID

Tuesday, October 26, 2021 Press Office
Press Release

Medtronic will partner with the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) School of Design and Creative Arts to commission a public artwork commemorating the collaborative effort of the local community and Medtronic employees in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The competitive process is open to selected GMIT programme graduates (2016-2021) and is valued at €20,000.

The partnership is a part of the GMIT Radius Project which engages the School’s graduates and students with local community and social organisations in the creation and exhibition of artistic projects and commissions. The winning piece will be on permanent display at the Medtronic ventilator plant in Mervue, following an expo tour of the local community.

In 2020, the medical technology and healthcare communities, together with third-level colleges such as GMIT and NUIG, joined forces in an unprecedented way to respond to the global pandemic. As hospitals became flooded with critically ill patients, it quickly became clear that the global supply of ventilators would need to immediately and dramatically increase. With Medtronic’s ventilator manufacturing facility based locally in Mervue, the operations in Galway became the heart of the company’s response.

Medtronic, through its employees, corporate partners and suppliers, worked tirelessly over a period of just 4 months to increase their ventilator production by more than five times. Medtronic also took the unprecedented step to share the design specifications for the Puritan Bennett™ 560 ventilator, which is manufactured in Galway, with the public. The design files have been downloaded more than 225,000 times.  

GMIT students and staff also put their shoulders to the wheel, initially hosting a Contact Tracing Centre for the HSE, and assembling an army of volunteers in all campuses to produce PPE and specialist equipment in partnership with research teams in both the public and private sectors across the region.

Ariel Mactavish, President of the Medtronic’s Respiratory Interventions Operating Unit, said, “We are exceptionally proud of the efforts of our Galway employees for leading Medtronic’s response to the global ventilator demand throughout 2020 and 2021. We know that their success would not have been possible without the support of neighbours, partners, families and the wider Galway community. We are excited to create an opportunity for an artist to help us permanently commemorate this extraordinary chapter of Medtronic’s long history in Galway.”


Dr Seamus McGuinness, lecturer, GMIT School of Design and Creative Arts, is delighted to be collaborating with Medtronic Galway on delivering this commission. “Art education has been delivered by GMIT since the early 80s. The School of Design and Creative Arts is a hive of creative activity, specialising in courses in Art and Design, Digital Media and Film & Documentary. Community engagement is central to the School and is delivered in Galway through the GMIT Radius Project which builds on the foundations of our alumni and student collaborations with local community and social organisations in the creation and exhibition of artistic projects and commissions.”

The Medtronic Galway commission “Breathing Life into Art” is a celebration of community spirit and the exceptional response of Medtronic Galway employees who will be actively involved in the conception as well as the production of the artwork to be displayed at the Mervue ventilator plant. GMIT will be directly contacting alumni and graduates of the Cluain Mhuire (Galway city) campus. For further details on the submission please email The closing date for Stage 1 Expression of Interest is 5 November 2021.

Dr Paddy Tobin, Head of School of Design & Creative Arts, “We wholeheartedly welcome the opportunity to work with Medtronic to celebrate the efforts of their community in response to the pandemic. This commission provides our graduates with the opportunity to create a piece for Medtronic that celebrates the work of the last 18 months and stimulates new thinking and community activity. The role and importance of Art in our lives has been highlighted in a way by the absence of Art during the pandemic. The actions of Medtronic and the announcement of this commission signal a fresh start with renewed sense of the relationship between Art, Life and Community.”


Note to editors:

About GMIT’s School of Design and Creative Arts
GMIT’s is based in GMIT Galway - Cluain Mhuire campus, and GMIT Letterfrack campus. The School currently has three departments: Centre for Creative Arts & Media, Department of Creative Education, National Centre of Excellence in Furniture Design and Technology, Letterfrack. The School is deeply engaged in collaboration with industry partners, community, and other organisations in a wide variety of projects, initiatives, and research. The creative industries are among the world's most rapidly growing economic sectors. Read more:

About the GMIT Radius Project

Established in early 2019 and emerging from GMIT School of Design and Creative Arts, the Radius Project engages with a variety of community and social organisations within a 2km radius of the GMIT School of Design and Creative Arts campus. Facilitated by lecturer Dr Seamus McGuinness, the Radius Project has three interlinked strands: 1. Being a creative catalyst for community engagement in the surrounding area. 2. Build trust and working relationships to develop and sustain change within our communities. 3. Support our graduates to make and deliver exciting and ambitious artworks. Presently there are fourteen community working partners and four ‘live’ Radius Projects working with specific community groups.


Issued by Regina Daly, GMIT Communications & Press Officer, GMIT, Dublin Road, Galway.
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Galway-Mayo IT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT working together to become a TU for the West and North-West of Ireland