Based in Canada, MUVE has made its way to Michigan to increase mobility options and services for people with disabilities across the state

Founded in 2017 in Montreal, Canada, MUVE – My Universal Vision for Everyone – is a technology start-up venture dedicated to reinventing accessible transportation using the latest technological innovations and the community at large. Rooted in mindfulness and compassion, MUVE is laser-focused on providing accessible transit services to people of all abilities, as well as their extended family and caregivers.

Recognized in 2018 as the “Mobility Startup to Watch” during the National Shared Mobility Summit, MUVE caught Michigan’s attention as a potential partner in building a more inclusive and accessible future of mobility. The feeling was mutual for MUVE, as the company knew that Michigan was a home of opportunity for implementing its technology within an entirely new market.

That is why when the state — in partnership with Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (formerly PlanetM), Michigan’s mobility initiative — launched the $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge later that year, and MUVE made the nearly 800-mile-long trip to Michigan to attend the inaugural, invitation-only workshop.

Launched in 2018, the $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge was a state initiative to help increase mobility options and services for people with disabilities, senior citizens and veterans within the state. During the initial workshop, state officials, local transit agencies, planning organizations and advocates for the target populations, private-sector partners, startup founders and other industry experts came together for a day of discussion and working sessions that helped hone their proposals for the Challenge.

Thanks to the strategic partnerships that MUVE established during the workshop — along with the company’s innovative product — the company decided to submit a proposal for the Challenge and became one of the 13 selected pilot winners.

“We were already interested in bringing our technology to Michigan, but knew we needed the right opportunity to build our network in the state and better understand its landscape,” said Peter Grande, co-founder of MUVE. “Having the chance to not only apply to the Challenge and be accepted, but also to attend MEDC networking events has been outstanding for our company. We have been able to connect with like-minded individuals and develop strategic relationships with companies throughout the state that will help us better serve Michigan’s community to make mobility more accessible for all.”

Through the $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge, MUVE piloted its mobility solution in the central Upper Peninsula (U.P.) throughout 2019. Dubbed the Michigan Universal Vehicle Ecosystem Pilot, the company worked with local U.P. partners in the area to pilot a rideshare and community-building platform in the central U.P. that focused on increasing accessible transportation options and efficiencies to ultimately reduce isolation for those facing mobility challenges.

MUVE learned of possibilities for expansion in the state through Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), who recognized the MUVE technology suite showed promise in developing sustainable mobility solutions while in the U.P. With that potential, and a motivation to continue its mission beyond the U.P. pilot, MUVE stayed connected and involved in the hope they could deploy and expand within the state.

MDOT, in collaboration with Ministère de l’Économie et de l'Innovation, reviewed and accepted a project proposal from the company, prompting it to move south within the state to continue to fine tune its processes and deploy solutions with new learnings in tow. It was through this project that MUVE reconnected with OFME and Michigan Mobility Funding Platform, making an application to expand the project’s depth and scope.

In September 2021, MUVE was among five mobility companies to receive Michigan Mobility Funding Platform grants to accelerate mobility and EV investments in the state. Working together with Western-Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE), MUVE received $125,000 to help bring more accessibility options to riders, dispatchers and drivers and enhance operational efficiency through technology that allows transit and on-demand ride-hailing to be fully integrated to help users of all abilities, including seniors, veterans and others living with mobility challenges, get to their destination safely.

“MUVE is grateful for the continued support from OFME and MDOT in furthering our mission of putting inclusive mobility and community building at the forefront in Michigan,” continued Peter. “We see the State of Michigan as the leading market for mobility innovation globally and we are looking forward to deploying our solution with WAVE as well as with the community partners in surrounding areas. We look forward to continuing the important work MUVE is doing in mobility, community development and inclusion while working to scale this innovation throughout the State of Michigan and beyond.”

The transportation app, Go MUVE, launched in April 2022, allows riders in the Western Washtenaw area to book reservations online for WAVE's door-to-door bus services. The app also provides real-time tracking for fixed-route vehicles and offers convenient e-payment services.

According to Julia Roberts, WAVE's executive director, the MUVE partnership opens up opportunities for WAVE to serve riders – who are predominantly older residents or residents with disabilities – in a more innovative way. The project is expected to conclude in October, when further data on ridership and usage will be shared.

MUVE’s app is also helping break barriers in West Michigan, with Grand Rapids-based transportation provider Ride YourWay teaming up with MUVE to expand its services in 2022. Founded in 2018, Ride YourWay is a transportation service for people with disabilities or other specific needs that may not be met by a typical ride-sharing service. Tom Sikkema, CEO and founder of Ride YourWay, says the company’s vision to “remove the barriers in a world that prevent people from living their best life” aligns with the mission and benefits of the Go MUVE app.

With proof of concept across both peninsulas, MUVE’s inclusive mobility technology is certain to grow in more areas of Michigan – and has the support of OFME.

“Working with OFME has been such a positive experience for our entire organization,” said Grande. “As a Canadian company, it’s not always easy or affordable to enter into U.S. markets. OFME has helped us to streamline that process and given us the confidence and motivation to continue to invest in and search out new and exciting partnerships and opportunities within Michigan. They have made us feel welcomed from day one and helped to facilitate so many wonderful relationships and networking opportunities with like-minded collaborators. Having OFME in our corner has made our time in Michigan enjoyable and productive. We look forward to continuing this important mission alongside the great people at OFME and the State of Michigan.”

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This article was updated on 08/18/2022