BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Venture-capital firms raised the smallest number of funds in 15 years in the third quarter, weighed down by the credit crisis.

Firms raised 17 funds, the same number as in the third quarter of 1994, according to a report by the National Venture Capital Association and Thompson Reuters ( TRI). Venture-capital firms gathered $1.6 billion, the least since the first quarter of 2003, when they managed to raise only $938 million. So far in 2009, firms have collected $8.4 billion, compared with $28.6 billion for all of 2008.

"Many limited partners are still determining their long-term strategies in the wake of the past year's financial crisis, and that slows the process down considerably," said Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA, in a statement. "We expect commitment levels to remain modest for the remainder of 2009, with gradual increases beginning in 2010."

Venture-capital firms cash out of their investments through initial public offerings, the market for which has been weak this year. There were three venture-backed IPOs in the third quarter: battery maker A123 Systems ( AONE), which, with $380.4 million, scored the biggest venture-backed IPO since March 2007; remote-access software company LogMeIn ( LOGM), which raised $106.7 million; and Cumberland Pharmaceuticals ( CPIX), which raised $85 million.

Those amounts are paltry compared with the third quarter of 2007, when 12 venture-backed companies raised $945 million in their IPOs. In total, 2007 included 86 venture-backed IPOs, whereas 2008 included six, and 2009 has had eight.

"The fact that many in the media are classifying three IPOs as a resurgence is evidence of how low our expectations have become," Heesen said. "While we are encouraged by the success of the companies that have gone public, their performance has yet to translate into a filling of the pipeline."

-- Reported by Carmen Nobel in Boston.