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Venture Capital Slips Only Slightly As Economy Downturn Looms

Internet companies saw a 7% decline in venture capital investment dollars from the fourth quarter of 2007, according to the MoneyTree Report.

In spite of a slipping U.S. economy, venture capitalists invested $7.1 billion in 922 deals in the first quarter, according to the MoneyTree Report. Investments in the traditionally weak first quarter were down about 8.5% from the last quarter of 2007, when $7.8 billion in 1,045 deals was invested.

The MoneyTree Report, based on data from Thomson Reuters, was prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. The report's findings were announced Monday.

The investment levels, although down marginally, held up to the extent that they were within the quarterly investment levels that have been compiled since 2001.

"Venture capitalists still have large amounts of money in their coffers," said Tracy Lefteroff, global managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers' venture capital practice, in a statement. "VCs have weathered numerous economic cycles and will continue to fund companies with innovative ideas."

The report noted that Internet companies -- defined as businesses fundamentally dependent on the Web -- collected $1.3 billion for 195 deals during the first quarter. The figure represents a 7% decline in investment dollars from the fourth quarter of 2007. Semiconductor deals showed an increase in investments in the most recent quarter -- from $458 million to $566 million in 50 deals.

Computers and peripherals and IT services all attracted increased levels of venture investments in the first quarter, according to the MoneyTree Report.

The New England states were hit hardest, as investments fell 24% in the first quarter in the six-state region.

The area receiving the most funding was the biotechnology and medical devices sector, which, combined, forms the Life Sciences Sector; investments in 220 deals added up to $2.3 billion -- the same amount that was invested in the sector in the last quarter of 2007.

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