This refers to the menu option available on Imperium Nova's sidebar. For the sphere, see Technology.
The Technology screen shows your current Technology Level (see below), together with the average Technology Level for the galaxy. This is also the place where you set your desired Technology Research Budget. Your research budget will directly affect how quickly you increase your tech level. The budgetary levels are as follows:
Anyone can set a research level of 'Small' or lower, however to set the budget above this requires technology as a sphere of activity. To set it to 'Huge', technology must be your primary sphere of activity.
Your Technology level affects numerous factors throughout the game to a small degree. Often it is not your actual Tech Level itself that is the important factor, but your Tech Level relative to the rest of the Galaxy. If you are behind the Galactic average Tech Level your costs will be slightly reduced, but your income also reduced. If on the other hand you are ahead of the rest of the Galaxy in technology terms, your costs will be higher (reflecting the more expensive technologies in use) but your income will be boosted by the same factor. Since your income should be higher than your costs, having a higher Tech Level is a definite advantage. The only exception would be for facilities that are not profitable at all. These would be even more of a liability if you are ahead on Tech than if you are not!
Importantly, your Technology Level also determines the 'Operational Range' of your House. This figure (arrived at by rounding your Tech Level down to a whole number) indicates how many sectors distance from your homeworld your operations can reach. Outside of this range you may not build facilities, launch attacks, or carry out any covert operations. Within the range you may perform all of these activities, although costs will be higher the further the target sector lies from your homeworld. Note that those Houses that specialise in Transportation benefit from an increased Operational Range due to the specialised nature of their technology.
It also goes without saying that in Military terms an improved Tech Level gives you an advantage over your enemies with a lower Tech Level.
To progress to a higher Tech Level takes a large amount of research. In real-time terms it takes many months of research to increase your Tech Level by a full point. Each game month your research will progress further. The actual progress will depend on your research budget, the number of technology research facilities you have built (if Technology is one of your Spheres of Activity), and your relative technology level. If you are ahead of the rest of the galaxy your research is slowed down somewhat to reflect the fact that your are already at the leading edge. Similarly if you are behind, you gain a small boost to research as more and more technologies become common knowledge. Your Tech Level will show increases of 0.01 of a point or more, so you have some idea how close to the next level you are as time goes by.
You will see that getting and staying ahead of your rivals technologically is expensive and resource-consuming. Given the benefits outlined above, it is up to each individual House Leader to decide how much of that House's resources to put into the Tech Race.
While raising your tech level is not required to be a strong player in Imperium Nova, not spending the resources to be raising your tech level makes this task much more difficult. Tech level increases the income you'll get from facilities, increases your range (and therefore access to more markets), and it increases your military ability. Your tech level is a nice meter on which you can base the evolution of your house. Not raising your tech level will likely lead to your house becoming economically stagnant, and a poor military threat.