Collaboration between industry and academia supports improvement and innovation in industry and helps to ensure industrial relevance in academic research. However, many researchers and practitioners believe that the level of joint industry–academia collaborations (IAC) in software engineering (SE) is still relatively very low, compared to the amount of activity in each of the two communities. The goal of the empirical study reported in this paper is to characterize a set of collaborative industry–academia R&D projects in the area of software testing conducted by the authors (based in Canada and Turkey) with respect to a set of challenges, patterns and anti-patterns identified by a recent Systematic Literature Review study, with the aim of contributing to the body of evidence in the area of IAC, for the benefit of SE researchers and practitioners in conducting successful IAC projects in software testing and in software engineering in general. To address the above goal, a pool of ten IAC projects (six completed, two failed and two ongoing) all in the area of software testing, which the authors have led or have had active roles in, were selected as objects of study and were analyzed (both quantitatively and qualitatively) with respect to the set of selected challenges, patterns and anti-patterns. As outputs, the study presents a set of empirical findings and evidence-based recommendations, e.g.: it has been observed that even if an IAC project may seem perfect from many aspects, one single major challenge (e.g., disagreement in confidentiality agreements) can lead to its failure. Thus, we recommend that both parties (academics and practitioners) consider all the challenges early on and proactively work together to eliminate the risk of challenges in IAC projects. We furthermore report correlation and interrelationship of challenges, patterns and anti-patterns with project success measures. This study hopes to encourage and benefit other SE researchers and practitioners in conducting successful IAC projects in software testing and in software engineering in general in the future.