San Francisco -- Despite a slow fourth quarter, the amount of venture capital invested in Bay Area companies reached its highest level in five years in 2006, according to new figures released by Ernst & Young and Dow Jones VentureOne. Local companies raised about $9.05 billion, up from $8.5 billion a year ago, with the vast majority (more than $6 billion) coming in the information technology sector. The annual total was the highest since 2001, when area companies brought in nearly $11.7 billion. The figure came despite just $1.94 billion raised during the fourth quarter, the lowest amount raised in seven quarters. Some of the top area funding rounds during the quarter went to biotech firms, including South San Francisco-based Synosis Therapeutics ($32.5 million), San Bruno-based Gentiae Clinical Research ($23.5 million) and Palo Alto-based InteKrin Therapeutics ($23 million). Nationally, companies raised a five-year high of $25.75 billion last year, up 8% over 2005 levels, though the fourth quarter was the slowest of the year.