Project ran like clockwork for Jacob

Jacob Higham with the prototype of his special clock, to aid youngsters and people with autism
Jacob Higham with the prototype of his special clock, to aid youngsters and people with autism

A Wigan secondary school pupil hopes his time has come as an entrepreneur after creating a special clock to help young people with autism.

Jacob Higham, who goes to St John Fisher High School, worked with three other young people on a Wigan Youth Zone project to come up with the ingenious time-keeping device.

The interactive day planner has brightly-coloured images and blocks to help youngsters on the autistic spectrum know what time of day every activity in their routine takes place.

Jacob’s group, which called itself Like Clockwork, has now attracted interest from across the retail world and it is hoped the object may hit high street shelves at some point in the future.

Their efforts also took them to the national final of a competition for business brains at the country’s youth zones and a major commercial event in London.

Jacob, 14, said: “When we carried out our market research among parents of children aged between two and seven, teachers and parents of autistic children told us that our prototype clock was really eye-catching, colourful and easy to follow.

“We also learned from them that they thought it would be a great idea as a lot of children with learning difficulties use iPads or similar tablet devices.

“With this you can be more tailored to the individual so they can drag and drop more personalised photos onto it.

“This helps autistic children as they like routine and familiarity.”

The clock went through a couple of stages of development with extra magnetic symbols for healthy eating, gymnastics and brushing teeth being added to the device for youngsters to use.

They also devised bright orange packaging which they nicknamed the pizza box.

The team was responding to a challenging brief which asked it to create a “fun and educational toy for children that was interactive, affordable and fulfilled a gap in the market”.

Their success has been such that nationally-known names Hobbycraft and Alibaba are in talks to possibly stock the clock.

Jacob and his three fellow entrepreneurs were taking part in Youth Innovate, a competition organised by top businessman John Roberts who is also a supporter of Onside, which runs youth zones including the one in Wigan.

Judges sent Like Clockwork through to the national final at London’s O2 Arena, where the team spent two days on a trade stand meeting famous names from the industry.