He is best known for his impressive achievements in Portugal. As a Minister for Science and Technology and later also Higher Education in Portugal, he has boosted the Portuguese people's interest in science and technology.Portugal is the only European country that succeeded in attracting significantly more students in STEM education in the last twenty years, while the relative interest for such studies in other European countries has on average fallen.
He was a Minister for fourteen years, from 1995 to 2002 and from 2005 to 2011. He founded the Ciência Viva programme, with various science centres all over Portugal and one interactive science and technology museum in Lisbon, the Pavillion of Knowledge. He erected a funding agency for science education projects, where teachers could apply and receive subsidies directly.
Scientix was honoured to have Professor Gago as the keynote speaker at the 2nd Scientix Conference in October 2014 in Brussels. In the conference opening speech, Prof. Gago pointed out that policy makers need to empower teachers, as the frontline in science and technology education: "...only the empowerment of science teachers and their social recognition by society may allow success of sustainable Science and Technology policies".