The concept was originally developed by a partnership between Swansea University and the Welsh Development Agency (WDA), which built an Innovation Centre at the university in 1986. The project led to the construction of the first Technium building, a purpose-built £2m facility to house general technology at Prince of Wales Dock, Swansea, opened in 2001. In October 2001, the WDA decided to build five more Technium centres across Wales in an effort to spur innovation in the Welsh economy. In 2003, a £150m expansion of the Technium programme was a key part of the Welsh Assembly Government's three-year Innovation Action Plan.
The Technium programme's attempt to develop indigenous businesses was described as radically different from the WDA's previous inward investment strategy, which sought to attract foreign employers to Wales. However, critics have argued that the scheme is over-ambitious, with too many incubator spaces than can be filled by local academic entrepreneurship, and focuses on property development and leasing space, rather than management assistance for new ventures.
A 2009 report on the Technium initiative by DTZ showed that since the first Technium was opened, 151 tenant companies had been accommodated. Eighty-two were still in residence, 38 had moved to other locations and 22 had failed. The Western Mail argued that the scheme's performance had been "mixed at best... the tenants have created nearly 1,000 jobs, but surely they would have been created anyway and found suitable accommodation from private sector landlords."
In November 2010 following a substantial review process, it was announced by the Welsh Assembly Government that six Technium centres were to be removed from the network - Pembrokeshire, Aberystwyth, Bangor (CAST), Pencoed (Sony), Baglan and Llanelli.
Current Technium Centres:
- Technium Digital, Swansea University
- Technium OpTIC, St Asaph
- Technium Swansea, Swansea
- Technium Springboard, Cwmbran
- "Q&A: Wales' Technium future". BBC News. 3 September 2002. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
- "Be innovative, businesses told". BBC News. 4 March 2003. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
- Cooke, Phil (2005). "Varieties of Devolution: Visionary and Precautionary Economic Policy Formulation in Scotland & Wales" (PDF). ESRC Devolution & Constitutional Change Programme. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
- Barry, Sion (23 July 2010). "Top civil servants and Techniums in the firing line". Western Mail. Retrieved 26 July 2010.