Better late than never: For anybody wondering what happened to the Design Business Association’s recruitment service, proposed for September this year… it is still coming, though not until early next year. The DBA insists nothing is awry, just that it has been very busy. It is tight-lipped as to the structure of the new service, but chief executive Ian Rowland-Hill says he will reveal all nearer the launch date.

A good reference?: Meanwhile, the DBA’s new referral service, launched late last month, is now in full swing. To date nine clients have paid the 250 fee to the DBA, explained what they are looking for and received a list of suitable candidates to peruse at their leisure. This appears to be a good start, though the crunch will be how many of these lead to design contracts. We’ll keep you informed.

Whole in one: Another new website package has hit the shelves, offering a short cut to designing and maintaining a website. Under the deal The Gauge Group sets up the site and provides software which can be used to update it by downloading text and pictures from brochures and catalogues. The software starts at 9999 and includes training. For sales enquiries call Sarah Roach at Gauge on 0171-717 1553.

Conduit for inventors: Cash-starved inventors with good ideas have a chance to exploit them commercially through a new virtual initiative, devised by the Hampshire branch of Business Links. The virtual network will link inventors with universities and businesses, providing a cheap means of developing prototypes and taking ideas through to production. Advisors will not be paid but will have a stake in any successes that occur. Details are available from Hampshire Innovation Service on 0345 354 555, reference the Virtual Company.

Beware, illegal software: This month the Business Software Alliance, set up to combat software piracy, set its Crackdown ’97 initiative rolling by sending 20 000 questionnaires to small and medium-sized firms. The aim, the BSA assures us, is not to catch people breaking the law, but to help establish whether they are packing illegal software. Companies that are should ring BSA’s hotline (0800 510 510) during office hours for advice.

DTI investigates: It’s not just the Business Software Alliance that is cracking down. The Department of Trade and Industry is also active at the moment, launching 225 investigations into companies in 1996. This is the highest level ever, says the annual report of the department’s Investigations and Enforcement Directorate. Most of the investigations were unannounced arrivals of the department’s inspectors, with the most common cause of the inquiry alleged theft – up from 143 complaints in the previous year to 187 – and running an unauthorised insurance business: up from 26 complaints to 51.

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