Deep tech VC firm expands life sciences thesis to focus on founder-led engineered biology startups

February 28, 2024


Playground Global Promotes Benjamin Kim PhD to Partner

PALO ALTO, Calif.–February 28, 2024–Playground Global, an early-stage, deep-tech venture firm that invests in founders building category-defining businesses at the forefront of science and technology, today announced that Benjamin Kim PhD, has been promoted to Partner. Ben focuses on identifying founders and companies that are revolutionizing engineered biology, building the future of emerging modality therapeutics development, and unlocking AI and ML workflows to refactor drug development.

Ben joined Playground as a Venture Fellow in 2019 while completing his PhD in bioengineering at Stanford University. He became a Venture Associate a year later, and by 2022, he had led investments in two breakthrough biotech companies and was promoted to Venture Principal. In the last year, Ben has supported investments in Insamo (Board Observer and Lead Investor), Infinimmune (Board Director and Lead Seed Investor), Atomic AI (Board Observer and Lead Series A investor) and Amber Bio (Board Observer and Co-Led Seed Investment Round). He has also worked with Outpace Bio and Manifold Bio, where he is a Board Observer.

“It’s an honor to contribute to the Playground life sciences ecosystem and support our portfolio companies in evolving deeply technical breakthroughs into transformational businesses,” said Ben Kim, PhD, Partner at Playground. “Looking ahead, I’m particularly excited to continue to apply an engineering-focused approach to expanding Playground’s platform therapeutics portfolio, and invest in new technologies that use deep bioengineering methods to create solutions to known limitations in emergent, clinically-proven modalities.”

Before joining Playground, Ben was a PhD graduate student and National Science Foundation Fellow at Stanford University, where he studied bioengineering and biomedical engineering. While at Stanford, he leveraged his biotech expertise to analyze and invest in publicly traded biotech companies and regularly published research in bioengineering, protein engineering, and chemical synthesis of new classes of small molecules. Most recently, he was selected to speak at the 2023 BIO International Convention on the evolving landscape of immunotherapy in solid cancers.

“Ben brings an infectious passion for and incredible knowledge of bioengineering and biophysics to the Playground team,” said Jory Bell, General Partner at Playground. “His dedication to continuing research in these areas is not only inspiring, his expertise benefits our investment team and portfolio companies immensely. Ben has been integral to the growth and success of Playground as we’ve refined and expanded our life sciences thesis to focus on founder-led engineered biology startups. His in-depth knowledge of this space will be invaluable as we continue to scale.”

Ben’s promotion follows the addition of Nate Chang, who joined Playground from Andreessen Horowitz as a biotech Operating Partner in August 2023, and the firm’s recent close of $410 million in new capital, which brought its assets under management to more than $1.2 billion. Playground’s investments focus on Seed and Series A companies across next-gen computing, logistics, automation, infrastructure, decarbonization and engineered biology, with initial investments ranging from $1 million to $20 million. For more information on Playground and focus areas of the investment team, visit

About Playground Global

Playground Global is an early-stage venture capital firm investing in entrepreneurs who have developed breakthroughs in frontier technologies that will transform existing industries and create entirely new verticals. Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Playground invests across deep tech and science, including automation, infrastructure, engineered biology, and decarbonization — all underpinned by the next generation of compute. Playground’s bench of technical and operational experts supports founders in developing their deep tech technical breakthroughs into transformational businesses. Playground has been an early – and frequently the first investor – in companies like PsiQuantum, Relativity Space, Ultima Genomics, MosaicML, d-Matrix, Strand Therapeutics, and Universal Hydrogen. Learn more at


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