M&As Spike in Q1 –

The amount generated by venture-backed mergers and acquisitions increased 75% in the first quarter, compared to the previous quarter, according to Thomson Venture Economics and the National Venture Capital Association.

A total of 77 VC-backed companies were merged or acquired for a combined value of just over $4 billion, up sharply from the fourth quarter of last year when 71 targets accounted for $2.3 billion.

Forty-five of 77 deals in Q1 reported transaction value. Among those the average deal was nearly $90 million, up 32% over last quarter’s average and the largest average deal size since Q1 2001.

A sector breakdown shows software targets continuing to dominate, with 23 deals and a total disclosed value of $1.35 billion. That included two of the top 10 transactions.

Canaan Partners saw five of its portfolio companies get acquired last year. Eric Young, a general partner at the Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm, says he expects more this year.