NEW ORLEANS, LA – Bayou Classic, the annual college football matchup between Grambling State University and Southern University, has engaged talented students from 8 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) from across to southern United States through a business and technology competition created in partnership with NexusLA.

The BizTech Challenge gives students in both STEM and business related studies the opportunity to partner together and create compelling business ideas that will help benefit their communities. In its first years, the BizTech Challenge was focused on economic recovery, but this year there are 3 specialty categories and one general entrepreneurial category for students to choose from when formulating their teams. The 3 specialty categories are Advanced Manufacturing, Clean Energy, and Digital Technology.

“Society has rallied around stem programming and we deem it important to foster the growth and development of HBCU students that have an interest in the field of technology,” said Dottie Belletto, President and CEO of NOCCI, the company that manages Bayou Classic. “Tech experience is a qualification that can open the door to great career opportunities. We are extremely proud of the growth of this program.”

Twenty-four teams with a total of 98 students and their faculty advisors have registered to participate in the challenge. The students teams receive entrepreneurial education throughout the program, and are matched with industry professionals who provide the teams with mentorship, experience-related feedback, and resource connections in their field of study. Five teams will be selected as finalists, which will all present their comprehensive business plans to the public Friday, November 24th at 2 p.m. in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The winning team will be selected by a panel of expert judges and will be presented with a cash prize of $10,000 before the Bayou Classic on the field of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“The BizTech Challenge is the perfect opportunity for HBCU students to showcase their talents and capacity for innovation,” said Genevieve Silverman, Executive Director of NexusLA. “It provides them with an avenue to success in a field in which they have been historically underrepresented, and that is, at its core, what the BizTech Challenge is all about.”

The event has two Gold-Level sponsors, AT&T and Cargill, and five Bronze-Level sponsors, Sparkhound, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Business First Bank, Stone Pigman, and the Knobloch, Poche, Burns Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors. It is also presented in partnership with America Makes, HBCU CDAC, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. All of the BizTech Challenge’s sponsors and partners have a vested interest in growing HBCU talent, and will be an excellent resource for students to find mentors, educational resources, and potentially even future employment.

About Nexus LA

A Baton Rouge-based organization which connects the innovation and entrepreneurship community to resources, opportunities and solutions by implementing strategic initiatives that increase regional collaboration, access to capital and technology workforce diversity. For more information, please visit

About Bayou Classic

The legendary game between Grambling State University and Southern University approaches its 44th year this November and with viewership over 5.5 million in 2015 on the NBC Sports Network, the Bayou Classic has proven to be a steadfast beacon of legacy and tradition that extends beyond the HBCU community. Over 250,000 fans from across the nation journey to New Orleans during Thanksgiving weekend to witness the electrifying football game between Grambling State and Southern, while eagerly awaiting the highly anticipating halftime show featuring two of the greatest marching bands in the nation. For more information, visit or download the official Bayou Classic mobile app.

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