This is how Billy describes his achievement and encourages other researchers to apply for it :
What are the details of the project?
Side-Channel Analysis (SCA) is an offensive security technique that targets secrets in implementations of security-critical devices. Examples of existing side-channels include power consumption, electro-magnetic radiation, timing, and acoustic emanations. At a high level, “SCARE: Side-Channel Aware Engineering” will discover new side-channels, utilize them to develop attacks on real-world devices and protocols, and mitigate the attacks with a regression testing approach.
What kind of grant is this? Can researchers from all fields apply for it?
ERC Starting Grant is a basic research funding mechanism for early career scholars with a 2-7 year old doctoral degree. The panels are quite diverse so the funding is available across many (most?) fields.
Which people supported you in the application process?
The biggest support came from TUT research services personnel. Especially Tuukka Pöyry for the initial application process, then also Kaisa Männikkö and Jörg Langwaldt during the extensive training sessions, following information from the ERC that I’d made the short list for interview.
What was your first reaction when you received the decision?
In all honesty, the email from the ERC was not incredibly clear! Even containing the statement “At this stage this message should in no way be considered as a commitment of financial support by the European Research Council.” So I thought it might be just another informational email from the ERC about the application status. It wasn’t until I started receiving messages from TUT colleagues that I realized!
How is the ERC-StG process and funding different from other funding you’ve obtained?
For the 2018 call, ERC-StG success rate was roughly 13%. This is very comparable to 2018 Academy of Finland rates at 14%. The difference is ERC-StG funding is 1.5 MEUR over 5 years: significantly higher than AoF funding. The decision is also great timing for me and my team, since my current AoF grant is ending this month!
From the constructive criticism I received in my ERC-StG evaluation report, I can also tell the ERC did an excellent job of matching my application with domain experts. From the feedback, the critical points were all valid.
Once more, warmest congratulations from the Lab!