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Venture capital investments for the first quarter of 2014 were positive nationally, and Pittsburgh was a bright spot in comparison with other benchmark cities. The region invested $78.5 million in local startups, the strongest showing since 2009.

Nationally, venture capitalists put $9.5 billion to work during the first quarter through 951 deals, the highest quarterly total since the second quarter of 2001, according to the Money Tree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

Most of the dollars nationally went to the software industry. It was the sector’s strongest showing since the fourth quarter of 2000.

Silicon Valley and New England accounted for more than half of the total national deals: $4.7 billion went to Silicon Valley companies; $1 billion was spent in New England and another $960 million went to companies in New York.

While funding in many other cities fell during the same period, Pittsburgh venture deals were strong, hitting a five-year high of $78.5 million. The region raised $91.3 million in the first quarter of 2009.

Industrial battery maker Aquion Energy raised the largest amount at $29.6 million, followed by online language company Duolingo at $20 million and Alzheimer’s drug researcher Cognition Therapeutics at $10 million.

Other Pittsburgh companies reporting rounds in the 2014 first quarter included:

Cohera Medical $9.2 million (medical)
Forever $4.6 million (software)
First Insight $1.5 million (software)
Medallion Analytics Software $1.5 million
Nanovision Diagnositics ($1.3 million)
NeuroKinetics (medical)

Deb Smit

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared...