Venture capitalists provide cash, guidance and resources to help new businesses thrive - businesses like Google, which might still be stuck in a garage if it weren't for VCs' early investments.

Now the search giant wants to return the favour, and its Google Ventures arm aims to find the most exciting new businesses and help them to thrive - not just by throwing money at them, but by sharing resources too. Here are ten firms that Google's backing to make them bigger.

1. Adimab

"The first fully integrated, yeast-based antibody discovery platform" might not sound too exciting, but Adimab is doing something extraordinary: it's built a kind of synthetic immune system that can help pharmaceutical companies develop the antibody drugs of the future.

2. Corduro

Don't bother checking out the Corduro website: it's essentially a placeholder, with precious little information. You might be better off checking out the iPhone/iPad payment application Square, because we suspect Google's investment in Corduro is for something similar: the firm offers a mobile payment platform for small businesses, and of course Google has a mobile platform in Android.

3. English Central

Bringing English Central into the YouTube family makes a lot of sense. The site offers an unusual take on language learning, enabling students to choose popular English language video clips rather than traditional, deathly dull educational footage. English Central then uses speech recognition to analyse the students' speech and provide feedback.

4. iPierian

Another medical investment, iPierian focuses on fighting diseases for which there are poor medical models and limited available treatments such as Parkinson's disease, spinal muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Its technology effectively reprogrammes human adult cells to behave like stem cells, deftly side-stepping the controversy over the use of human embryos' cells in medical research.

5. Miso

The Miso service is a kind of Foursquare for TV, enabling you to share what you're watching with others, discover new things to watch and earn points to unlock "fun, virtual badges like Princess, Food Mobster and Moustache Patrol." Miso was already available in Web-based, iPhone and iPad flavours, an Android version has just launched and we'd expect to see it on Google TV when that ships.