Initial public offerings jumped to their highest level in more than a year in the third quarter.

Nine companies backed by venture capital went public over the past three months, generating $732.8 million, according to statistics from the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Venture Economics.

One of the firms had backing from a Southeast-based investor. Direct General Corporation raised $145.58 million, the second largest IPO. Its backers include Noro-Moseley Partners.

Cisco Systems is an investor in iPASS Inc, which produced an IPO worth $98 million.

The largest IPO was the $150 million raised by SigmaTel.

More action is on the way, NVCA and Thomson reported, with some 35 firms “in registration” at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The nine IPOs were the most in a quarter since 15 were filed in the second quarter of 2002. Only eight had been filed in the interim, producing some $500 million.

NVCA: www.nvca.org