The countdown has begun to the JEDCO Challenge, the Jefferson Parish-based pitch competition. In its third year, the JEDCO Challenge, sponsored by First NBC Bank, features a battle of the brains with some of its most innovative startups.

The JEDCO Challenge voting will take place by texting votes at the competition beginning at 2 p.m. Monday at Southport Hall. The event is free to the public.

Each company in the competition will have seven minutes to pitch. There is $20,000 on the table and a bundle of business-boosting services to help the winner grow his or her company.

Five companies were chosen “that are changing our world for the better, and they all have some ties to Jefferson Parish,” a release from JEDCO said.

They are AxoSim Technologies, Cook Me Somethin’ Mister, InnoGenomics Technologies, myMix Nutrition and Sock Spot.

Finalists will prepare for their pitch and submit a business plan in advance of the competition. They will have a table to showcase their product at the 2015 JEDCO Challenge, and the audience and judges get 30 minutes to browse.

The judges and the audience will choose a winner. Visit www.jedco.org/challenge for details about how to register.

JEDCO also has nominated three of its finalists — AxoSim, Cook Me Somethin’ Mister and Sock Spot — for a spot in The Big Idea, the culminating event of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. New Orleans Entrepreneur Week runs March 20-27.

There are 12 spots available for The Big Idea competition and 22 companies vying to make it in. The 12 will be chosen by online voting. For information, register at NOEW.org. The JEDCO Challenge also can be added through the NOEW schedule.

The JEDCO Challenge finalists are:

AxoSim Technologies

Pioneered by J. Lowry Curley, Ph.D., and Michael J. Moore, Ph.D., AxoSim’s advanced “nerve-on-a-chip” technology can determine the level of neurological safety and effectiveness of a new drug early in its development. The company developed a 3-D cell-based model that acts and functions like a nerve, which serves as an alternative to costly animal testing or less-effective cell models. This “nerve-on-a-chip” gives pharmaceutical companies access to high-content data faster, earlier and at a lower cost than currently possible, which increases the chance of clinical success and prevents harmful drugs from reaching vulnerable patients. AxoSim’s goal is to accelerate medical breakthroughs and improve people’s health. Learn more at www. axosim.com.

Cook Me Somethin’ Mister

The Jambalaya Girl’s locally owned family business, Cook Me Somethin’ Mister, is bringing an authentic taste of Greater New Orleans to the world, starting with the company’s easy to prepare jambalaya and gumbo made with the finest ingredients in the region. Drawing from her upbringing in the New Orleans cooking scene and her creation of a nationwide tailgating fundraiser following Hurricane Katrina, owner Kristen Preau created Cook Me Somethin’ Mister from her dad’s jambalaya recipe. All products are packaged for retail and food service with more recipes to come. Distribution is rapidly growing nationally and internationally, as products are available in more than 100 grocery stores, 10 Sam’s Clubs, 10 major food service distributors and can be ordered online. Learn more at www.cookmesomethinmister.com.

InnoGenomics Technologies

InnoGenomics Technologies is dedicated to the development of innovative genetic testing solutions that solve crimes and save lives. The company’s patented technology has multiple applied science applications, including the ability to enable forensic scientists to unlock answers from the most challenging DNA evidence. The company is developing a liquid biopsy method to detect and monitor cancer through a minimally invasive blood test. InnoGenomics’ scientific team has in-depth expertise in molecular biology, forensic genetics and molecular diagnostics. The company’s management team has over 85 combined years of experience in successful biotechnology commercialization. InnoGenomics is focused on harnessing the power of genomics to transform health care and forensic investigations. Learn more at www.innogenomics.com.

MyMix Nutrition

MyMix Nutrition is an e-commerce store that allows individuals and organizations to formulate and purchase their own custom protein powder products. Created by husband and wife team Crutcher and Sarah Reiss, myMix Nutrition enlisted the assistance of registered dieticians, licensed nutritionists and internal medicine doctors to review the business plan, ingredient offerings and dosage control systems to ensure product safety. MyMix’s menu of available ingredients to mix spans the gamut to fit the needs of any and all health and fitness enthusiasts. MyMix is wholly dedicated to delivering the highest-quality products, creating transparency and comfort, and tailoring each mix to their customers’ exact needs. Learn more at www.mymix nutrition.com.

Sock Spot (Pleasantree LLC)

A family of four loses over 60 pairs of socks a year. Sock Spot is the educational solution to that household problem. Sock Spot is a book and toy combo packaged together to include an organizing toy rack with colorful character sock clips and an illustrated storybook. The Sock Spot installs horizontally or vertically on a washer/dryer or anywhere in the laundry room with kid-friendly suction cups. The book tells an adventure of a boy and his lost sock, which incorporates the same characters found on the toy and a jingle to help kids remember what to do with that single unpaired sock. Sock Spot teaches children order and tidiness, while saving time and money. Each purchase helps to fund autism research and family support. Learn more at www.sockspot.com.