WASHINGTON ( TheStreet) -- Venture-capital investors placed $6.5 billion in 906 deals in the second quarter, the most invested in startup companies since the third quarter of 2008, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

Investments jumped 34% in dollar terms and 22% in deal count compared with the first quarter, when $4.9 billion was invested in 740 startups, according to the report, which is based on data from Thompson Reuters ( TRI). Year-over-year performance was significant, too: In the second quarter of 2009, $4.27 billion was invested in 705 transactions.

The number of seed and early-stage investment deals increased from the previous quarter, rising 54% to $2.3 billion. The number of nascent-stage deals rose 32% to 429 deals. First-time financing gains were more modest, with newbie dollars rising only 7% from the prior quarter to $1.1 billion, but the number of first-time deals climbed 27% to 281 deals in the second quarter.

Venture-capital investing reflects hope for the IPO market, which is recovering after a dismal 2009. Globally, there were 203 initial public offerings in the first half of 2010, already surpassing the 178 IPOs for all of 2009. In the U.S., there were 64 IPOs in the first half worth a total of $9.2 billion. In 2009, there were only 62 U.S. IPOs for the entire year, garnering proceeds of $22.8 billion.

"As the exit market begins to show signs of life, venture capitalists are now able to look increasingly at new investments outside their existing portfolio," said Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association, in a statement.

The investment increases came in spite of the fact that venture capitalists have had a hard time raising funds. Thirty-eight VC funds in the U.S. raised $1.9 billion in the second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association. In the first quarter, 38 funds valued at $3.7 billion were raised. The second-quarter fundraising figures represented the lowest, in terms of dollar commitments, since the third quarter of 2003.

The money invested in clean technology (including alternative energy, pollution and recycling, power supplies and conservation) rose 107% to $1.5 billion for the second quarter, although the number of clean-tech deals remained flat -- 71 compared with 70 in the first quarter. Big second-quarter winners included Better Place Inc., which specializes in electric-vehicle systems, which received about $350 million, and solar powerplant company BrightSource Energy, which got $150 million.

Biotechnology fared well, too, receiving the highest level of funding: $1.3 billion. The dollar amount jumped 59%, and deal volume advanced 34% to 139 transactions.

Typically, the software industry saw the most deals but received less money than biotech and clean tech, due to lower overhead requirements. Some 229 software companies received VC funding in the second quarter, up from 160 deals in the first quarter, for a total of $1 billion.

The computers and peripherals industry received $239.9 million in 21 deals in the second quarter, compared with $141.4 million in 13 deals three months earlier. The semiconductors and telecommunications sectors fared less well, with dollar decreases of 40% and 27%, respectively, over the previous quarter.

-- Reported by Carmen Nobel in Boston.

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