Venture funding for startups in Los Angeles dipped over the past few months, but an increase in activity over last year could portend a rebound in deal flow.

Venture capital firms invested $206 million in local companies during the third quarter through 26 investments, according to data released Monday by Dow Jones VentureSource. The dollar value is off 36 percent from the second quarter, when $324 million was distributed through 30 investments.

Still, third quarter activity was up 5 percent over the same period a year ago.

In one of the larger deals during the past quarter, Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital invested $17 million in later-stage financing in Futuredontics Inc., the Los Angeles parent of dentist-referral service 1-800-Dentist.

More than $675 million was invested in L.A. startups through the first nine months of the year, up 37 percent from the same period last year. The steady rise in investment activity has some hopeful for an industry rebound.

“The uptick in venture investment through the first three quarters reflects the fact that the fund-raising and liquidity markets are also improving,” said Jessica Canning, global research director for Dow Jones VentureSource, in a statement.

“With more cash on hand and with exits freeing up capital slated for their portfolio companies, deal making is picking up,” she added.

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