Venture capital fundraising hits low

Venture capital investors are scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to raising new funds, according to data released today by the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters. Just 17 venture capital funds raised $1.6 billion in the third quarter of 2009 — a 15-year low.

That's the smallest number of venture funds raising money in a single quarter since 1994 and the lowest level of dollars committed since 2003. 

The NVCA expects fundraising to remain modest for the remainder of the year, with gradual increases in 2010.

Venture capitalists rely on raising money from large investors, such as pension funds and other endowments, in order to fund young companies — most often in the technology sector. Those large investors have been hit hard by the recession and are wary of investing in a relatively high-risk area like venture capitalists.

Here's a chart that shows the data broken out by quarter.