I think it has a lot to do with a civilization's mentality. There are many other civilizations before Europeans but still today many are in a primitive state, and they are only being brought up with technology from countries that are more advanced. It took thousands of years for humans to invent relatively simple inventions that would have revolutionized the world a long time ago if they were invented. Like paved roads and the press. both very important to spread ideas... this is how humanity advanced, essentially by spreading ideas throughout Europe and other parts of the world so that other people could build on them and invent practical applications. I think it is very important that people need to have the incentives to invent these revolutionizing things too. It took an empire to make the first huge paved roads, then people started using them for trade and travel and it facilitated exchange of ideas. Those things wouldn't have been enough for a large coordinated effort to take place to build the infrastructure. It made armies travel faster. The press was invented to spread the Bible. Books (and reading ability) were rare and costly before that.
I toyed with the idea to have an alien civilization keep down a planet's population on purpose with some technology that'd disable electronics or stop certain chemical interactions from happening or something... from the belief that sentient life is best kept in a primitive state. Or just to experiment and observe.